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Columbia (Hntoem'tp 









Lieutenant Peterson. Lieutenant Jones. Lieutenant Moberly. 

Surgeon-Captain Luard. Surgeon-Captain Browning Smith. 

Colonel Kelly and his Officers. {Frontispiece - 

Lieutenant Stewart, R.A. Lieutenant Beynon. Colonel Kelly. Captain Borrodaile. 

Lieutenant Cobbe. Lieutenant Bethune. Sergeant Reeves. 





queen's own corps of guides 
author of "eighteen hundred miles on a burmese tat " j i( frays 
and forays"; "the queen's commission," etc., etc. 






i 9 i o 

All rights reserved 

V r I 

First Edition October 1895, 
Reprinted October and December 1895 ; April 1896 ; 1897. 
Shilling Edition 19 10. 

Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, 
bread street hill, e.c., and 
bungay, suffolk. 


This book is the joint production of two 
brothers, who are constantly being mistaken 
for one another, who happened to be present 
together in the same campaign and to both 
act as correspondents of the Times in that 
campaign. The chapters (III. IV. and V.) on 
Sir Robert Low's advance are by Captain 
George Younghusband, who was present 
throughout the operations on General Low's 
Staff. The remaining chapters are by Captain 
Francis Younghusband, who from his two years' 
residence in Chitral was better acquainted with 
the country through which Colonel Kelly 
marched his troops, and with the place in which 
the defence was made. 

This record of the Chitral campaign is based 
on the official despatches published in the 
Gazette of India and in the Blue Book on 
Chitral affairs lately presented to the Houses of 
Parliament, and the management of the Times 
have kindly allowed that use should be made of 
the letters which the authors wrote to the Times. 

The illustrations are from photographs taken 



by Sergeant Mayo, of the Photographic 
Section of the Bengal Sappers and Miners, 
which accompanied General Low's column ; 
and from sketches very kindly furnished 
by Surgeon-Captain Browning-Smith and 
Lieutenant Beynon, who served with Colonel 
Kelly s Column. 

October 1895. 

A few verbal corrections and some slight 
additions have been made to bring this book 
up to date. 

July 1910. 












THE RELIEF OF CHITRAL . . . . . . . II5 






To face page 

Colonel Kelly and his Officers (Frontispiece) 

Map of Chitral Expedition, 1895 . . . x 
The Westminster Abbey of Chitral . . .15 

Lieut. B. E. M. Gurdon, D.S.0 16 

Diagrammatic Sketch of the Koragh Defile . 34. 

The Lowarai Pass ....... 66 

The Lowarai Pass in May 76 

The Malakand Pass 84 

Constructing a Suspension Bridge over the 

Panjkora River no 

Dm Fort 116 

Head-quarter Camp, Dir 124 

Sir R. Low and Staff on the Janbatai Pass . .128 
Chitral Fort, from the South . . . .142 

Major Townshend, C.B 144 

Lieut. H. K. Harley, D S.0 166 

Sketch of South (Gun) Tower, Chitral Fort . 169 

Native Levy 176 

Sepoy 32ND Pioneers 182 

Captain J. McD. Baird 226 

Company of the 14TH Sikhs, which formed part 
of the Garrison of Chitral during the 

Siege 228 

House occupied by Sher Afzul during the Siege 

of Chitral Fort 231 


Russian Sphere of Influence- ~ 

Boundary of Country under Political control of Government of /ndia~,JE& 
Qn nn diron- administration <cf Do. , Do.....W=. 




In the middle of March of the year 1895, 
people in England were suddenly made aware 
that grave trouble had arisen upon the northern 
frontier of India ; that the representative of the 
British Government was besieged in the heart 
of a mountainous country, hundreds of miles 
from the nearest support ; and that operations 
on a large scale were contemplated by the 
Government of India to effect his release, and 
restore British prestige. Some account of 
how this trouble arose is required, and of the 
causes which necessitated this campaign by 
which the honour of the British name was 
saved, and British officers were rescued from 
an untimely end. 

India is bounded on the north by successive 



ranges of mountains of great height, and among 
these mountains is the State of Chitral, a 
country somewhat larger than Wales, and sup- 
porting a population of 70,000 or 80,000 rough, 
hardy hillmen. Both the capital and the state 
itself are called Chitral, and the principal place, 
where is the fort of Chitral, is situated at a dis- 
tance of about forty-seven miles from the main 
water-shed of the range of the Hindu Kush, 
which divides the waters flowing down to India 
from those which take their way into the Oxus, 
and on to Turkestan and Central Asia. Chitral 
is an important state, because of its situation at 
the extremity of the territory over which the 
Government of India exerts its influence, and 
for some years past, it had been the object of 
the policy of the Government of India, to con- 
trol the external affairs of Chitral, in a direction 
friendly to our interests ; to secure an effective 
guardianship over its northern passes ; and to 
keep watch over what goes on beyond those 
passes. With these objects in view, Major 
Biddulph was sent to the country in 1877, and 
the first attempt was made to enter into 
relations with the Ruler or Mehtar of the 


country. No very definite arrangement was 
come to at this time, but in 1885, when war 
between Russia and England was imminent, 
Lord Dufferin despatched Sir William Lockhart 
at the head of an important mission to enter 
into more definite and complete relations with 
the Mehtar, and to report upon the defences 
of the country. Colonel Lockhart spent more 
than a year in Chitral and the neighbouring 
states on the north, as well as on the south side 
of the Hindu Kush range, and from that time 
to this the relations of the Government of 
India with the Rulers of Chitral have been of a 
close and intimate nature. Chitral was then 
governed by old Aman-ul-Mulk, a strong, 
astute ruler, who, by the force of his character, 
by intriguing, by murdering those of his rivals 
whom he could, ensnare with his wiles, and by 
fighting the remainder, had consolidated a 
number of small states incessantly at warfare 
with one another into the Chitral of the year 
of the campaign. Under his firm rule, the 
country was held together, and, so long as 
he lived, no one dared to rise against him, or 
dispute his authority. But he had seventeen 

B 2 


sons, and those who knew the customs of 
Mohammedan countries foresaw that, on his 
death, these must infallibly commence a fratri- 
cidal struggle for the throne. 

At the end of August 1892, old Aman-ul- 
Mulk died, and the long-expected scramble for 
the Mehtarship immediately commenced. Of 
the seventeen sons, there were two who 
by reason of the rank of their mother, were 
regarded as having the strongest claims to 
the Mehtarship. These two youths had been 
invited down to India on a visit to the Viceroy 
some years before, and they were in receipt of 
small subsidies from the Government of India. 
Nizam-ul-Mulk was the name of the elder, and 
the younger was named Afzul-ul-Mulk. At 
the time of the old Mehtar's death, the second 
son happened to be in Chitral, while his elder 
brother was away in Yasin, 160 miles distant, 
carrying out his duties as Governor of that out- 
lying province. Afzul-ul-Mulk ' immediately 
seized the arms and treasure in the fort, 
attached a large following to himself, for he was 
decidedly the more popular of the two brothers, 
and then proceeded to murder all those of his 


other brothers who, in spite of their lower 
birth, might certainly be expected to make a 
bid for the throne. He killed a number of 
these, and then set off with an army to fight his 
elder brother, Nizam-ul-Mulk, in Yasin. Afzul 
was a bold and daring leader, while Nizam was 
never noted for his courage, and had none of 
his brother's personal popularity. He was 
therefore only able to make a very feeble show 
of resistance, and he then fled to Gilgit, to the 
head-quarters of the political agent, and of the 
troops stationed there for the protection of this 
part of the Indian frontier, to seek refuge under 
British authority. 

Afzul-ul-Mulk returned to his capital elated 
and triumphant. He was recognised by all his 
people as the Mehtar of the country, and the 
Government of India, in accordance with their 
principle of recognising as ruler the man whom 
the people themselves chose, proceeded to con- 
gratulate him upon his accession to the throne 
of Chitral. The anticipated troubles seemed to 
have come to an end in the space of a very 
few weeks, and there appeared to be nobody 
now to oppose Afzul-ul-Mulk's rule. The 


British Government saw seated on the throne 
of this important state a man for whom British 
officers who had met him. had considerable 
admiration, and a man who, having visited 
India, and become acquainted with our real 
strength and resources,, and who was believed 
to be loyally attached to the alliance with the 
British Government, was likely to prove an 
almost model ruler for the country. 

Everything then seemed to have settled down 
satisfactorily ; but Afzul-ul-Muik had only just 
received the recognition of the Government of 
India, and had not been two months on the 
throne, when without warning, and suddenly as 
the fall of a thunderbolt, appeared one upon the 
scene who, in the space of a single night, upset 
all these dreams of peace. Afzul-ul-Mulk had 
by one means and another ridded himself of 
those of his brothers who were likely to cause 
him trouble. He was reasonably safe as regards 
brothers, but there was an uncle who had been 
overlooked. This was Sher Afzul, who many 
years before had struggled for the throne with 
the old M eh tar, but who had long since been 
driven from the country, and forced to live in 


exile in Afghan territory. This prince suddenly 
appeared before the walls of the Chitral fort. 
He had successfully intrigued with a number 
of men in Chitral who were inimical to Afzul- 
ul-Mulk, and so secured an entrance to the 
country. The fort of Chitral is situated only 
forty-seven miles distant from the pass into 
Badakhshan, over which Sher Afzul advanced, 
and he had ridden rapidly in with a hundred or 
more of horsemen, collected a few followers on 
the way, killed the Governor of the valley 
through which he passed, and in the dead of 
night appeared before the walls of Chitral 

Success or failure now turned upon the action 
of a few hours. If he could gain an entrance 
to the fort, and hold it, he would secure the 
throne for himself; but if he were held at bay 
for even that one night, he could only expect 
to be swamped in the morning by the un- 
doubtedly strong following of Afzul-ul-Mulk. 
Sher Afzul was making a bold and daring 
move, and fortune favoured his audacity. 
Afzul-ul-Mulk, hearing from the inside of the 
fort the clamouring at the gate as Sher Afzul 


appeared, rushed out to ascertain what was the 
matter. In so doing he exposed himself, was 
shot down, and died almost immediately. 

One king being dead, the Chitralis, \vith that 
versatility of temperament so characteristic of 
them, immediately proceeded to recognise as 
their ruler the man who had killed him. In no 
other country is the principle, so dear to the 
heart of the British Government, of recognising 
the de facto ruler, more fully acted upon than in 
Chitral. There was now no attempt to turn 
the invader out of the country, and no one 
waited to call in from Gilgit the eldest son of 
their old ruler. The Chitralis simply recognised 
as their chief the man who was the last to say 
he intended to rule them. Sher Afzul was to 
be their Mehtar. They believed all the promises 
so utterly incapable of fulfilment which he made 
to them, and Sher Afzul, having now seized 
the rifles, ammunition, and treasure which had 
before been taken possession of by Afzul-ul- 
Mulk, assumed the reins of government, and by 
promising houses, lands, and fair wives to every 
one who asked for them, and by liberal gifts of 
money, speedily made himself the popular idol 


of the people. But his lease of power was a 
short one. 

While these events were occurring, Nizam- 
ul-Mulk, the eldest son of the old Mehtar, had 
been living quietly at Gilgit, enjoying a daily 
allowance from the British Government. He 
had seen his younger brother succeed to the 
throne, and recognised as Mehtar by the 
Government of India, and his fortunes for the 
time seemed at their lowest ebb, but in these 
turbulent countries, where the wheel of fortune 
turns so rapidly, no claimant to a throne need 
despair, however remote his chances of succeed- 
ing may seem for the time. And now Nizam- 
ul-Mulk, hearing of the death of his younger 
brother, at once plucked up courage to make 
an attempt to gain the throne of Chitral. He 
wrote to Colonel Durand, the British agent at 
Gilgit, asking him for his support, and saying 
that, should he become Mehtar, he would agree 
to British officers being stationed in Chitral, and 
to the establishment of a telegraph line, and 
would carry out all the wishes of Government. 
Nizam also signified his intention of moving 
against Sher Afzul ; and having come to Gilgit 


of his own accord, and being there as our guest 
and not under detention, Colonel Durand was 
unable to refuse him permission to leave Gilgit, 
and accordingly allowed him to go, while he 
despatched 250 rifles, 2 guns, and 100 levies, 
into the province of Yasin, in order to strengthen 
his own position, in the event of its becoming 
necessary to treat with Sher Afzul, and to 
preserve order in the western part of the Gilgit 
district and in Yasin. 

Nizam-uI-Mulk on crossing the frontier, was 
joined by a large number of men from the upper 
valleys of Chitral, with whom he had been 
brought up as a youth, and who were always 
much attached to him. A force of 1,200 men, 
which Sher Afzul sent to oppose him, also 
went over to him, and he immediately marched 
on Mastuj, which he occupied without difficulty. 
Drasan fell into his hands on the 1st of 
December, and Sher Afzul, seeing the game 
was up, fled as rapidly as he had appeared, back 
into Afghan territory ; where he remained, till 
at the commencement of the present year he 
again appeared upon the scene to set the whole 
of Chitral once more in a ferment. 


Nizam-ul-Mulk felt that his success had been 
very largely due to the countenance which had 
been given him by the British authorities, and 
his first act on ascending the throne was to ask 
that a British officer might be sent to remain 
by his side. The Government of India directed 
that a mission under the charge of Surgeon- 
Major Robertson, and which consisted of 
Lieutenant The Honourable C. G. Bruce, 
Lieutenant J. H. Gordon, and myself, with fifty 
men of the 15th Sikhs should be deputed to 
proceed to Chitral to congratulate the new 
Mehtar on his succession, and to promise him 
the same subsidy and support as were given to 
his late father. 

In the middle of January 1893, we crossed 
the Shandur Pass, 12,400 feet high, since 
rendered famous by the march of Colonel 
Kelly's column across it, and, in spite of the 
severity of the weather and the extreme cold, 
reached Chitral without mishap on the 25th of 
January. Here the mission remained till May, 
giving to the Mehtar that support which he so 
much required in the consolidation of his rule. 
Dr. Robertson and Lieutenant Bruce returned 


to Gilgit at the end of May, while Lieutenant 
Gordon and myself, with the whole of the escort, 
remained on in Chitral. As the months went 
by, the Mehtar gradually strengthened his 
position, and at the end of September, we were 
able to withdraw to Mastuj, a place sixty-five 
miles nearer Gilgit, which the Government of 
India desired should in future be the head- 
quarters of the political agent. During the 
following year, no event of importance occurred 
upon this frontier, though the restless Pathan 
chief, Umra Khan, the Mehtars neighbour on 
the south, was constantly causing trouble by 
attacking the villages considered by the Mehtar 
to belong to Chitral. In the autumn of last 
year the Honourable George Curzon, M.P. (now 
Lord Curzon) entered Chitral territory from the 
direction of the Pamirs. He and I rode down 
together to the Mehtars capital, and were 
received by him with every mark of hospitality. 
We had long conversations together, we dined 
with him and he with us, and we played polo 
together ; and when on the i ith of October we 
rode away from Chitral, no one would have 
supposed it possible that in a few months' time 


the country, which then seemed so quiet, should 
be the scene of the bloody conflict which raged 
there in the first months of the ensuing year. 

Nizam-ul-Mulk was by no means a pattern 
ruler, but, though deficient in courage, and 
unpopular with many of his people on account 
of his avaricious habits, was in many respects a 
good ruler, and he was certainly a firm ally of 
the British Government. He had been to India, 
had mixed with British officers, and had suffered 
adversity. At the same time he had no wild 
ambitions to lead him astray. His ruling 
passion was love of sport ; and as long as he 
had the support of the Government of India to 
guard him from outside troubles, he felt that he 
could indulge his inclinations in that respect to 
his heart's content. The result, both to our- 
selves and to the Chitralis, was certainly satis- 
factory. The Chitralis were free from any 
gross oppression or misgovernment, they could 
enjoy life in their easy-going way as they would 
wish, and they could be ruled by their own 
ruler. At the same time, we had never to fear 
that the Mehtar would not be guided by us in 
any matter relating to his external affairs. 


When, therefore, on the first day of January 
of the following year Nizam-ul-Mulk was shot 
dead while out hawking, by the directions of 
his half-brother, Amir-ul-Mulk, a characterless 
youth of about nineteen, every one who knew 
the country felt that a grave misfortune had 
occurred. At a stroke this miserable boy was 
able to sweep away the good results of two 
years' careful thought on the part of the Govern- 
ment and of their local officers, and to transform 
a peaceful state into the scene of a desperate 
struggle. The youth who had shattered the 
promising fabric, which had slowly been set up, 
was a son of the old Mehtar by one of his four 
legitimate wives, and Nizam-ul-Mulk would 
have liked to have murdered him, knowing that 
if he did not do so he ran the risk of himself 
being murdered by the youth. But knowing 
how averse the British authorities were to these 
murders, he had refrained from carrying out 
what he knew to be a prudent measure of 
self-defence, and he had now suffered for his 
leniency and his loyalty to the wishes of his 

At the time of this unfortunate occurrence, 

The Westminster Abbey of Chitrat, 

Where the Mektars are buried 


Lieutenant B. Gurdon, who had succeeded me 
a few weeks before in the political charge of 
Chitral, was on a visit to the capital with an 
escort of eight Sikhs : the remainder of his 
escort of ioomen being posted at Mastuj, sixty- 
five miles north-east of Chitral. Amir-ul-Mulk 
immediately sent a deputation to him asking to 
be recognised as Mehtar ; and it is significant 
of the prestige and authority which we then 
enjoyed, that a reckless youth, in the very 
excitement of his impetuous action, should have 
come cringing in to a young British officer with 
only eight native soldiers at his back, asking 
for his countenance and support. Lieutenant 
Gurdon told him that he could merely refer the 
matter to the Government of India and await 
their orders. This Lieutenant Gurdon now 
did, but it may be imagined that his position at 
this time was one of considerable anxiety which 
required all the tact and coolness which he now 
proved himself to possess. He had at once 
sent for a reinforcement of fifty Sikhs from his 
escort at Mastuj, and these reached him on the 
8th ; and that they were able to do so, and were 
not hindered or molested on the way, is another 


sign that at that time there was no defined spirit 
of hostility to the British. 

In anticipation of trouble, however, 100 men 
were sent to reinforce Mastuj, 200 men were 
marched to Ghizr, and in the middle of January 
Surgeon-Major Robertson, the British agent at 
Gilgit, started for Chitral to report on the 
situation. Mr. Robertson arrived in Chitral at 
the end of January, and afforded timely relief 
to Mr. Gurdon, who, in the meantime had, in 
the words of the despatch of the Government 
of India on the subject, acted with admirable 
coolness and judgment, occupying a house in 
an excellent position for defence, if necessary, 
and quietly laying in supplies in case of trouble. 

Meanwhile Umra Khan, chief of the Jandul 

State, immediately bordering Chitral on the 

south, had taken the opportunity which the 

troubles which were occurring in Chitral afforded 

to invade the country, ostensibly with the object 

of supporting Amir-ul-Mulk, but with the real 

intention of annexing it to his own dominions. 

This enterprising chief was the son of the ruler 

of the little Pathan State of Jandul, who, on the 

death of his father in 1879, had make an attempt 


to seize the throne from his eldest brother, but 
not being successful had prudently retired on 
a pilgrimage to Mecca. Having plucked up 
heart again two years later, he murdered his 
brother, seized the throne, and then commenced 
a series of wars against his neighbours, which 
only culminated in the disasters of the present 
year. Valley after valley he annexed to his 
country. Scarcely a month passed by without 
a fight, and with each success his ambitions only 
grew wider and stronger. His, indeed, was one 
of those uncontrollable spirits which feed upon 
high adventure, and tire of nought but rest. 

He now thought he saw his opportunity of 
acquiring the more important and larger state 
of Chitral. He had dreamed one night that 
this should be his, and, to the excitable 
imagination of an Oriental, it seemed that his 
dream was a prophetic inspiration from on high. 
He was, undoubtedly, an accomplice with Amir- 
ul-Mulk in the murder of the late Mehtar ; but 
it is not so certain whether he had done more 
than give that youth a general assurance that if 
he would murder the Mehtar he should be sup- 
ported. Umra Khan at the time of Nizam's 


murder was preparing for an expedition else- 
where, and, had he been in direct communica- 
tion with Amir-ul-Mulk as to the precise time 
of the murder, it is questionable whether he 
would have chosen the season of the year when 
the high pass between his own and Chitral 
territory was blocked with snow. However, 
seeing that the murder had occurred, and know- 
ing that all the leading men in Chitral had 
previously been made away with, that the 
country had now no leaders, and must of 
necessity be split up into a number of opposing 
factions, he, without a moment's hesitation, 
seized the opportunity, and in spite of the heavy 
snow on the pass, 10,000 feet in height, which 
separated him from Chitral, marched with 3,000 
men into that country. 

The Chitralis at first opposed this Pathan 
force. They had always looked upon the 
Pathans as their hereditary enemies, and had 
on many previous occasions resisted invasions 
by them. Had they now had any leader to 
keep them together, and to encourage them, the 
Chitralis would have been able to repulse the 

invaders. Could the British have supported 

c 2 


them in their resistance, as Lieutenant Gurdon 
did with a few men in one of the preliminary- 
skirmishes, they would have gained heart, and, 
with the spirit which they are capable of 
showing when once they are fairly aroused, 
would have beaten back Umra Khan's men ; 
but Amir-ul-Mulk, their would-be leader, 
was incapable of exercising authority. He had 
not been recognised by the British officers as 
Mehtar, and it was doubtful whether he ever 
would be ; and his hope lay therefore more 
with Umra Khan than with the British, and 
the British officers were unable to support the 
Chitralis in a quarrel of their own with this 
neighbouring chief without the direct instruc- 
tions of their Government. 

The resistance of the Chitralis therefore 
collapsed, Umra Khan succeeded in capturing 
Kila Drosh, the principal fort on the southern 
frontier of Chitral, and this he immediately 
commenced to strengthen, so as to form of it a 
firm " pied-a-terre " on Chitral territory. And 
just as affairs had taken this unfavourable turn, 
just when the Chitralis were divided and leader- 
less, when their country had an invader in its 


midst, once more 'appears upon the scene that 
evil spirit of Chitral and persevering aspirant 
for its throne, Sher Afzul. Scarcely more than 
two years previously he had killed one Mehtar, 
ruled the country for a month, and then been 
ousted by the elder brother, and now, after a 
further sojourn of two years in Afghan territory, 
in a confinement which the Amir of Kabul had 
most solemnly declared to the Government of 
India would be permanent, so that he might 
never again be allowed to disturb the peace of 
Chitral, he was allowed to escape from Afghan 
territory and join Umra Khan at Drosh in the 
latter half of February. 

Mr. Robertson did not receive reliable infor- 
mation of his arrival in Chitral territory until the 
24th of February, when he at once entered into 
communication with him. On the 27th of 
February, Mr. Robertson received from Sher 
Afzul a demand that he should go back to 
Mastuj at once. Sher Afzul promised to be 
friends with the Government on the same terms 
as previous Mehtars of Chitral, that is to say, 
that he was to receive subsidies from the 
Government, but that no British officer should 


reside in the country. But his promise was 
coupled with the threat that if his terms were 
not accepted, Umra Khan would at once 
advance. The two princes had, in fact, made an 
alliance, the basis of which was really hostility 
to the British Government. They were to in- 
duce or force the British officers from Chitral 
territory, and after that had been effected, they 
could then decide who should rule the country, 
one thing only being certain, that whoever 
should be the nominal Mehtar, Umra Khan 
would be the ruler practically. Mr. Robertson 
replied to Sher Afzul that the Maharajah of 
Kashmir was the Suzerain of Chitral, and that 
neither Umra Khan nor any one else could im- 
pose a Mehtar on Chitral without the permission 
of the Government ; he added that Sher Afzul 
was wanting in respect to the Government of 
India, that he was informing the Government of 
Sher Afzul's demands, and would communicate 
their instructions to him, and that if in the 
meantime he attempted any overt act of hostility, 
he must take the consequences on his own 

At the end of February, the Chitralis were 


still holding a position a dozen miles below 
Chitral, and Umra Khan was rapidly complet- 
ing his preparations for the defence of Kila 
Drosh against an attack from the Chitralis, 
which he believed to be imminent. A few 
Chitralis of the lower class had gone over to 
Sher Afzul, but the principal men, though 
suspected of being partisans of Sher Afzul, did 
not openly defect. Suddenly, however, they 
now changed their minds and went over in a 
body to Sher Afzul. In that versatile and im- 
pulsive way so characteristic of them, they 
turned completely round, and, in place of join- 
ing the British and opposing Umra Khan, they 
now, under the impression that Umra Khan 
was the stronger, because the nearer power, 
and that the British were the weaker, because 
the more distant, joined the Pathan chief, and 
came surging on in a wave towards the fort of 
Chitral, which Mr. Robertson, with the escort 
of 400 men, which he had brought with him, 
had now occupied. 

Amir-ul-Mulk had been deposed and was 
under the custody of the British officers, and 
Mr. Robertson had formally recognised Shuja- 


ul-Mulk, an intelligent, trustworthy little boy, 
nine or ten years old, as provisional Mehtar of 
Chitral, pending the orders of the Government 
of India. 

On the 3rd of March, the combined Chitrali 
and Pathan forces appeared before Chitral, an 
action took place in which one British officer 
was mortally wounded, and another severely 
wounded, in which a General and a Major 
and twenty-one non-commissioned officers and 
sepoys of the Kashmir Infantry were killed, 
and twenty-eight wounded. The British force 
was then shut up within the walls of the fort, 
and no further news of them reached the 
Government of India for many weeks to 

Information of the serious turn which affairs 
had taken in Chitral was received by the 
Government on the 7th of March, and they 
immediately decided that preliminary arrange- 
ments should be undertaken, in order to be 
prepared if necessary to operate against Umra 
Khan from the direction of Peshawur. It was 
believed that the garrison in the Chitral fort 
could resist an attack from Umra Khan and 


Sher Afzuls forces, and hold out as long as 
their ammunition and supplies lasted ; but as 
communications were all interrupted, and as 
retreat was cut off, it appeared imperative that 
no effort should be spared to effect their relief 
by the end of April, if the investment was not 
otherwise removed before that date. On the 
14th of March, in order that Umra Khan might 
have distinct notice of the decision to which 
the Government of India had thus come, a final 
letter of admonition was sent to him recounting 
the various warnings given to him against 
interfering with Chitral affairs, mentioning his 
various acts of aggression, directing him to at 
once quit Chitral territory, and telling him that 
if by the 1st of April he had not withdrawn, the 
Government of India would compel him to do 
so. The letter went on to say that the Govern- 
ment were making fresh preparations to send 
forward their forces, for that purpose, and that 
he would only have himself to blame for any 
evil results that might fall upon him. At the 
same time a proclamation in the following terms 
was issued : — 


To all the people of Swat and the people in Bajaur 
who do not side with Umra Khan. 

Be it known to you, and any other persons concerned, 

Umra Khan, the Chief of Jandul, in spite of his often 
repeated assurances of friendship to the British Government, 
and regardless of frequent warnings to refrain from inter- 
fering with the affairs of Chitral, which is a protected state 
under the suzerainty of Kashmir, has forcibly entered the 
Chitral valley, and attacked the Chitrali people. 

The Government of India have now given Umra Khan 
full warning that, unless he retires from Chitral by the ist 
of April, corresponding with the 5th day of Shawai 13 12 
H., they will use force to compel him to do so. In order 
to carry out this purpose, they have arranged to assemble 
on the Peshawur border a force of sufficient strength to 
overcome all resistance, and to march this force through 
Umra Khan's territory toward Chitral. 

The sole object of the Government of India is to put an 
end to the present, and prevent any future, unlawful aggres- 
sion on Chitral territory ; and as soon as this object has 
been attained, the force will be withdrawn. 

The Government of India have no intention of perma- 
nently occupying any territory through which Umra Khan's 
misconduct may now force them to pass, or of interfering 
with the independence of the tribes ; and they will 
scrupulously avoid any acts of hostility towards the tribes- 
men so long as they on their part refrain from attacking or 
impeding in any way the march of the troops. Supplies 
and transports will be paid for, and all persons are at 
liberty to pursue their ordinary avocations in perfect 


Orders were also now issued for the mobil- 
isation of the i st Division of the Field Army 
under Major-General Sir Robert Low. 

While preparations were in progress of this 
force, news reached the Government of India 
of the disaster to a detachment of troops under 
Captain Ross on their way to Chitral, when 
Captain Ross had himself been killed, his 
Lieutenant, Jones, been wounded, and fifty-six 
men killed out of a total of seventy-one ; another 
detachment under Lieutenants Edwardes and 
Fowler was also known to be surrounded ; and 
finally communication with the supporting post 
of Mastuj was severed. This intelligence 
materially altered the situation again. It was 
now known to the Government of India that 
before they had taken the action described 
above, Umra Khan and Sher Afzul had actually 
waged war upon British Indian and Kashmir 

The necessity for relieving the little garrison 
in Chitral was more imminent than had been 
supposed, while the reason for giving Umra 
Khan a period of grace within which he might 


withdraw from Chitral had now disappeared. 
Colonel Kelly, commanding the 32nd Pioneers, 
the senior military officer in the Gilgit district, 
was placed in command of the operations in 
the Gilgit district. His orders permitted him 
to make such dispositions and movements as 
he might think best, provided he undertook 
no operations which did not offer reasonable 
prospects of success. It was, however, felt 
that the relief of Chitral from the side of Gilgit 
was probably impossible. Gilgit is 220 miles 
from Chitral, and at this season of the year was 
cut off from all support from India, by passes 
13,000 feet in height, which were now covered 
deep in snow, and which would not become avail- 
able for the passage of troops till June. On the 
other hand, the road from Peshawur to Chitral 
was less than 200 miles in length, and on it there 
was only one pass of 10,000 feet which would 
still have snow upon it. This pass was not 
altogether impracticable for an army. Orders 
were therefore issued for the despatch of the 
Chitral Relief Force under Sir Robert Low, as 
soon as it could be made ready. 


Before describing General Low's advance it 
is necessary to relate the circumstances under 
which the detachments under Captain Ross and 
Lieutenant Edwardes had, as mentioned above, 
suffered such signal loss.- 



On the ist of March, while Mr. Robertson 
with his escort was in Chitral and active hostil- 
ities had not yet commenced, a native officer 
had started from Mastuj with forty men and 
sixty boxes of ammunition for Chitral. He 
had proceeded for a couple of marches and had 
reached Buni, when he found the road broken 
and rumours reached him that he was to be 
attacked. He accordingly wrote to Lieutenant 
Moberly, the special duty officer with the 
Kashmir troops in Mastuj, telling him of the 
state of affairs and asking for instructions. 
Rumours had by now reached Mastuj that 
Sher Afzul had entered Chitral territory and 
that large numbers of the Chitralis had joined 
him. But he was said to have friendly inten- 
tions towards the British and all the local head 


chap, ii ROSS AND EDWARDES 31 

men reported to Lieutenant Moberly that no 
organised attack upon a party of troops was at 
all likely. 

Still there was evidently a feeling of unrest 
abroad, and as a detachment of the 14th Sikhs 
under Captain Ross and Lieutenant Jones were 
now at Laspur, two marches on the Gilgit side 
of Mastuj, on their way up, Lieutenant Moberly 
wrote to ask Captain Ross to come on into 
Mastuj in a single march instead of two. This 
Captain Ross did, and on the evening of the 
4th of March he started from Mastuj with fifty 
men to reinforce the Subadar, who was blocked 
at Buni. On the same day a detachment of 
twenty Sappers and Miners under Lieutenant 
J. S. Fowler, R.E., accompanied by Lieutenant 
S. M. Edwardes also arrived in Mastuj* The 
party were on their way to Chitral with engi- 
neering stores, and without halting at Mastuj 
they left on the following morning, March 5th, 
with the intention of overtaking the Subadar at 
Buni and with the combined party continuing 
the march to Chitral. 

That evening Captain Ross returned to 
Mastuj reporting that everything was quiet at 


Buni, and that Lieutenants Edwardes and 
Fowler were to leave Buni on the 6th for 
Chitral with the ammunition escort. On the 
evening of March 6th Lieutenant Moberly 
received a note from Lieutenant Edwardes 
dated noon of the same day from Koragh, a 
small hamlet a few miles below Buni, saying 
that he heard he was to be attacked near 
Reshun, the first stage beyond Buni. Upon 
hearirg of this Captain Ross at once moved 
from Mastuj, and also wrote to the 4 officer com- 
manding at Ghizr, the nearest post on the 
Gilgit side of the Shandur Pass, asking him to 
send up as many men as he could possibly 
spare to reinforce Mastuj. The strength of 
Captain Ross's party was 

2 British officers 

1 Native officer 

6 Havildars (sergeants) 

3 Naiks (corporals) 

2 Buglers 
82 Sepoys 

1 Hospital-Assistant 

8 Hospital followers 
2 Cooks 
2 Water-carriers 
1 Lascar 

1 Sweeper 

2 Dhobis 

Nine days' rations and 140 rounds of ammuni- 
tion per man were carried. 

Leaving Mastuj on the morning of March 


7th, Captain Ross reached Buni, eighteen miles 
distant, at 11 p.m. the same day. Here he left 
one native officer with thirty-three rank and 
file, while with the rest he and his subaltern, 
Lieutenant Jones, started for Reshun, the place, 
about thirteen miles lower down the valley, in 
which Lieutenant Edwardes' party were de- 
tained. Captain Ross's men took with them 
three days' cooked rations, and at about 1 p.m. 
the party reached the small hamlet of Koragh, 
about half way to Reshun, and a short halt was 
made here. What occurred after that may 
best be told in Lieutenant Jones's own words. 

About half-a-mile after leaving Koragh [he says] the road 
enters a narrow defile. The hills on the left bank consist 
of a succession of large stone shoots, with precipitous spurs 
in between ; the road at the entrance to the defile for about 
one hundred yards runs quite close to the river ; after that 
it lies along a narrow maidah, some thirty or forty yards in 
width, and is on the top of the river bank, which is here 
a cliff ; this continues for about half-a-mile ; then at the 
Reshun end it ascends a steep spur. When the advanced 
party reached about half way up this spur, it was fired on 
from a sangar which is across the road, and at the same time 
men appeared on all the mountain tops and ridges, and 
stones were rolled down all the shoots. Captain Ross, who 
was with the advanced guard, recalled the point of the 
advanced guard and fell back on the main body, with which 


Diagrammatic Sketch of the Koragh Defile 

chap, ii ROSS AND EDWARDES 35 

I was. All our coolies dropped their loads and bolted as 
soon as the first shot was fired. Captain Ross, after looking 
at the enemy's position, decided to fall back upon Koragh, 
as it would have been useless to go on to Reshun, leaving 
an enemy in such a position behind us. With this object 
in view Captain Ross ordered me back with ten men to 
seize the Koragh end of the defile, to cover his retirement. 
By the time that I had reached within about one hundred 
yards of the sangar at this end I had only two sepoys left 
with me unwounded, and it was therefore impossible for me 
to proceed any further. I sent back and informed Captain 
Ross accordingly. Captain Ross in the meantime had 
occupied two caves in the river bank, and he ordered me 
to come back to him, which I did. Captain Ross then 
informed me that it was his intention to wait till the moon 
rose, and that he would then try and force his way out. We 
stayed in the caves till about 8 p.m., and then we started to 
try and force our way out to Koragh. 

When Captain Ross had got about half way across the 
stone shoot under the sangars at the Koragh end he decided 
to retire, as there was such a torrent of rocks coming down 
the shoot, that he thought that his party would be annihilated 
if he attempted to go on. Thereupon we again retired to 
the caves mentioned above. After reaching here, Captain 
Ross thought that he would try and get to the top of the 
mountain above us, and we started up the spur nearest 
above the caves. We had got some way up, when our 
road was completely barred by a precipice, and we could 
get no further, as we had no native of the country to guide 
us, and the ground was extremely dangerous. One of the 
sepoys, falling here, was killed. After looking about in 
vain for a path, Captain Ross again decided to retire to the 
caves, and we reached them about 3 a.m. As every one 
D 2 


was now tired out, Captain Ross decided to remain here for 
the present. We remained in the caves all the day of the 
9th. The enemy, meanwhile, did not molest us further than 
firing a few shots into the cave, and, as we had built up 
breastworks there, they could not do us much damage. 
During the 9th Captain Ross and myself both agreed that 
the only thing remaining for us to do was to cut our way 
out back to Koragh at all costs, and we decided to make 
the attempt about 2 a.m. On the 10th, when we thought 
that the enemy would least expect it, we started accordingly, 
and we attacked their sangars and drove them out of them ; 
they retired a short distance up the hill and kept up a brisk 
fire from behind rocks. There was also a heavy fire kept 
on us from the sangars on the right bank of the river. A 
large number of sepoys were killed, or so severely wounded 
as not to be able to move, by the stones down the shoot 
which ran right into the river, and Captain Ross himself 
was killed in front of one of the sangars. I and seventeen 
rank and file reached the maidan on the Koragh side of the 
defile in safety, and when I got there I halted and re-formed 
the men, and stayed there some ten minutes, keeping up a 
heavy fire on the sangars on both banks of the river, in 
order to help any more of the men who could get through. 
While halting there, two bodies of the enemy's swordsmen 
attempted to charge us, but were checked by volleys and 
losing heavily. As the enemy now showed signs of again 
cutting our line of retreat, I considered that it was time to 
retire, especially as two more of my party were- killed, and 
one mortally wounded, while I had been waiting here. Of 
the remaining fifteen, I myself and nine sepoys were 
wounded. We retired slowly to Buni, where we arrived 
about 6 a.m. It was quite impossible to bring any wounded 
men who were unable to walk with us, and it was equally 


impossible to bring their rifles, etc. Therefore a certain 
number, about forty of these, fell into the hands of the 
enemy. I estimate the enemy's numbers at about 1,000, 
and think that they must have lost heavily. I spent from 
the 10th to the 17 th March at Buni, having occupied a 
house there and put it into a state of defence. 

On the 17th he was relieved by Lieutenant 
Moberly, as will be subsequently told. 

In concluding his report, Lieutenant Jones 
says that he cannot speak too highly of the 
steadiness and gallantry shown by the men of 
the detachment, whose behaviour throughout he 
considers above praise. 

We now have to follow the fortunes of the 
party under Lieutenants Edwardes and Fowler, 
to whose assistance Captain Ross had set out. 
This party, as will be remembered, had marched 
from Mastuj on the 5th of March before any 
news of an outbreak of hostilities had reached 
that place. They were escorting ammunition 
and engineering stores for the troops at Chitral, 
and their party consisted of twenty Bengal 
Sappers and Miners, forty-two Kashmir In- 
fantry, an orderly, three officers' servants, and 
two followers. On the 6th they reached 
Reshun, a large, but straggling village situated 


on a sloping plain between the left bank of the 
Chitral river and the steep mountain sides 
which rose behind. The houses are detached 
and dotted over the plain, each surrounded by 
an orchard. On the edge of a cliff which over- 
hangs the river was a sangar, which the detach- 
ment now occupied, and here they stored their 
kit and ammunition, while a small party con- 
sisting of Lieutenants Edwardes and Fowler 
with twenty Bengal Sappers and Miners, and 
ten Kashmir Infantry started out to repair a 
break in the road a few miles below Reshun. 
Immediately after leaving the village the road 
to Chitral ascends a spur to a height of about 
1,000 feet, and descending again to the level of 
the river passes for half-a-mile or so over a 
plain, and then enters a narrow defile with the 
unfordable river on one hand and inaccessible 
cliffs on the other. 

The British officers were unaware, though the 
siege of Chitral had commenced three days ago, 
that the Chitralis had risen in arms against the 
British, but they saw sufficient evidence of a 
hostile spirit to induce them to take every pre- 
caution on entering this defile. All the hill- 


sides were carefully examined with telescopes, 
and, as some sangars were observed, Lieutenant 
Fowler was sent to scale the heights on the left 
bank so as from there to be able to look down 
into the sangars on the opposite bank. Mean- 
while, Lieutenant Edwardes remained with the 
rest of the party close outside the defile., 
Lieutenant Fowler with some difficulty found 
a way up the hill-side, and was engaged in 
examining the opposite cliffs, when suddenly a 
shot came from them, and about two hundred 
men rushed out from a village where they had 
been concealed and began swarming into the 
sangars. Lieutenant Fowler kept up a heavy 
fire on them, as he was well above the sangars, 
and did considerable execution. 

But the enemy had now begun climbing the 
hill-sides behind him so as to cut him off from 
Lieutenant Edwardes, and he was forced to 
retire. His position indeed was now a very 
precarious one, for the Chitralis had succeeded 
in getting above him, and were hurling down 
stones upon his party, besides firing upon them. 
Lieutenant Fowler himself was wounded in the 
back of the shoulder, the corporal of the party 


was also shot, and two other men wounded. 
Scrambling and jumping down he succeeded, 
however, in bringing his party with the wounded 
men down the hill-side again and on to the plain 
where Lieutenant Edwardes with the main body 
was covering his retreat. The Chitralis with 
Lieutenant Edwardes had been trying to induce 
him to enter the defile, in which case he would 
without doubt have suffered as Captain Ross's 
ill-fated party had done. But Edwardes had 
prudently waited till Fowler could report the 
hill-sides clear, and then, finding that instead of 
their being clear the enemy were now swarming 
on to them, he saw that his only plan was to 
retire to Reshun ; and this, when Lieutenant 
Fowler had rejoined him, he accordingly did. 

But they were nearly two miles from the 
village : they had an open plain to cross and the 
spur nearly a thousand feet high to climb. One 
British officer and several men were wounded, 
and the enemy were gaining ground along the 
hill-sides. Disaster seemed imminent, but by 
holding the crest of the spur, and by firing 
steadily on the enemy to keep them at a distance, 
the retirement was effected without serious loss, 


and the sangar near the village of Reshtm,, 
where the rest of the party had been left, was. 
reached before the enemy could cut them off. 

There is one little incident in this retirement 
which merits a very special mention. It has* 
been said that Lieutenant Fowler was wounded. 
Now his pony was awaiting him in the plain at 
the foot of the hill-side up which he had been, 
climbing ; and as a steep hill, a thousand 
feet in height, had to be ascended on the- 
way back to Reshun, it might have been 
supposed that Fowler would have mounted his 
pony and ridden up the hill. But there were 
also some sepoys wounded ; and these ia 
Fowlers opinion had to be looked after first. 
So he mounted a sepoy on his pony, and walked 
himself. It is not to be wondered at that when 
the native soldiers see their officers ready to* 
make such sacrifices for them, they should be- 
willing to follow them anywhere, and stand by 
them to the last, as indeed these very soldiers 
were now called upon to do. 

For now the first blood was drawn the people- 
rose excitedly and surrounded the little British 
party in the quarters they were occupying. 


The British officers found it impossible to hold 
the original sangar on the cliff by the river, for 
it was exposed to fire from the opposite bank, 
and had no head-cover. They therefore decided 
upon occupying some houses by the polo ground, 
the very spot where Mr. George Curzon and 
myself had camped without a single man as 
escort, only five months previously. In this 
batch of houses, cover and fire-wood could be 
obtained, and a certain amount of supplies also. 
The only drawback in occupying them was that 
they were more than a hundred yards from the 
river, and consequently there was considerable 
risk of their water supply being cut off. The 
officers hoped, however, to be able to keep the 
road to the river open by their fire. 

Immediately upon returning to Reshun, the 
officers set to work to make the position defen- 
sible, and the following account of their brave 
resistance against overpowering numbers of the 
enemy is compiled from the report they subse- 
quently submitted to Government. The first 
work to be done was the construction of san- 
gars on the roofs of the houses (the houses 
being flat-roofed), the loopholing of the walls, 


blocking up entrances, and knocking out 
passages of communication. The materials 
available for making the sangars were the mud 
bricks of which the houses were built, roof 
timbers and other pieces of timber lying about, 
and boxes, grain bins, etc. An attack was fully 
expected that same night, and every possible 
precaution had to be taken before darkness set 
in. Before dusk the ammunition and the 
wounded had to be transported from the sangar 
near the river to the house. Some Kashmir 
sepoys volunteered for this work, and though 
they had to run the gauntlet of a heavy fire in 
crossing the space of a hundred yards which 
separated the sangar from the end of the garden- 
wall round the house, they carried it out without 
losing a single man. "Already dead tired, 
these men behaved splendidly," say the British 
officers in their report. 

The enemy had been firing all day upon the 
party while they were at work, but at sunset 
their fire slackened and they went off to eat the 
evening meal, for this was the month of the 
Ramzan when Mohammedans have to fast all 
day and eat nothing between sunrise and sun- 


set. Every man on the defending side was now 
posted in his place, and told to strengthen his 
cover for himself. And so the first night fell 
on the little party, now at bay, in the heart of 
an enemy's country, -with their retreat cut off, 
and impossible defiles on either side of them. 
Out of the sixty-two men, they had already lost 
one corporal killed, two men mortally and eight 
others less severely wounded, and one of the 
two British officers was also wounded. The men 
had had hard work the whole day long, they had 
had no food and little water, and now at night 
they could take no rest, for the enemy com- 
menced firing again, and the defenders had to 
expect a rush from the houses and garden walls 
close by at any moment. The defenders* 
position was indeed surrounded by these houses, 
walls, and trees, which gave ample cover to the 
enemy ; and the demolition of these was un- 
doubtedly a matter of the first importance. But 
beyond those immediately around the house, 
there was more cover occupied by the enemy's 
sharp-shooters, and the British officers con- 
sidered that it would have been too risky to have 
taken men from their places to demolish these, 


and so expose them where they might have 
been cut off at any moment. There was a 
difficulty, too, about burning the houses, for 
large quantities of kindling wood would have 
been required for the purpose, and from which- 
ever side the defenders should burn fires, the 
enemy would attack from the other, and thus 
have them between themselves and the light. 

All night long the garrison remained at their 
posts, and when day dawned on the morning of 
the 8th they were all utterly exhausted. But 
the fear of immediate attack being over, half the 
men were brought down from their posts, and a 
meal was cooked from the flour which had been 
found in the houses. Water, which had of 
course to be now carefully husbanded, was also 
served out ; and after the men had refreshed 
themselves, they were allowed to sleep in turns. 
During the day the enemy kept up a continuous 
fire from sangars which they had thrown up on 
the hill-sides. At twilight the remainder of the 
baggage was brought in from the sangar, and 
the garrison then had to think of replenishing 
the water supply. Two large earthenware 
vessels were lashed on poles, and Lieutenant 


Fowler with the volunteers and a bhisti (water- 
carrier) set out for the river. The men carried 
water-bottles and the bhisti his mussuck (skin). 
Fortunately no enemy were met with, and the 
party were able to make two trips, and so fill 
up all the storage vessels at the disposal of the 

That night, as on the previous one, the 
defenders stood to their posts expecting an 
assault at any moment ; but the night passed 
by quietly until just before dawn on the morning 
of the 9th, when the moon had gone down and 
night was at its darkest. The enemy then 
charged down through the houses, and got 
behind the garden wall in large numbers. 
Lieutenant Edwardes and his party at once 
opened fire at about twenty yards range, while 
the enemy were shouting and urging each other 
on to the assault. There was a tremendous din 
of tom-toms as they were beaten furiously to 
encourage the assailants, but none of the men 
could approach to within twenty yards of the 
deadly fire poured out by the defenders, and as 
the dim light of early dawn grew clearer, it be- 
came evident to the garrison that the enemy had 


no stomach for further assault. Some Pathans 
among the assailants were still seen urging on 
the Chitralis and hurling abuse at the defenders,, 
but at about 9 a.m. they all retired, and contented 
themselves for the rest of the day with beating 
tom-toms and howling in the village. During 
the attack the native soldiers of the defence 
showed the utmost steadiness, but four of them; 
were killed and six others wounded. On 
account of the darkness, it was impossible to 
estimate the number of the enemy or their 
losses. But there must have been several hun- 
dreds, and a very large portion were armed with 
Snider and Martini-Henry rifles. 

After the assault had been thus successfully^ 
repulsed water was served out, a meal was 
cooked, and the men allowed to sleep in turns.. 
In the evening it was seen that the enemy had 
barred the road down to the water. At dusk 
the defenders still further strengthened their 
sangars, and fully expecting another attack, kept 
up a vigilant outlook. But " we and the mea 
were terribly weary," say the officers, "and 
it was very difficult to keep the sentries awake,, 
although they were posted double." 


The night passed off quietly, however, and 
in the morning it was seen that the enemy had 
cleared off the hills, though sharpshooters still 
surrounded the defenders in sangars from fifty 
to two hundred yards distant. Lieutenant 
Edwardes dressed the wounded, who had so 
far only been bandaged. " Never a groan or 
complaint was heard," says the report, though 
there were no medical appliances, and though 
not sufficient water was available with which 
to thoroughly wash the wounds. Bandages, 
crutches, and splints had to be improvised, and 
the officers used a weak solution of carbolic and 
•carbolic tooth-powder for the purpose of dress- 
ing the wounds. The corpses of the six dead 
men were also brought out and prepared for 
burning. At dusk an attempt was made to 
procure water again, and Lieutenant Fowler 
with twenty sepoys started down towards the 
river. But the enemy had now built and 
occupied sangars along the cliff at the river's 
edge, and the work of getting down to the 
river was one of extreme risk. Lieutenant 
Fowler succeeded in getting to within ten yards 
of the first sangar and within five yards of 


the sentry without being observed. About 
twenty men could be seen sitting round a fire in 
the interior with their rifles lying by their sides. 
A volley was poured into these men, and then 
Lieutenant Fowler charged down on the top of 
them. A few men only succeeded in escaping 
down the cliff to the river bed. Meanwhile 
the enemy in a second sangar, roused by the 
firing, lined the walls and began firing to their 
front. But Fowler had got round them behind 
a wall on their flank, and he now charged right 
up the wall, poured a second volley into these 
men over the fires, also knocked over about six 
of them, then bayoneted a few more, while the 
remainder fled. And so successful had Fowler 
been in surprising these parties, that not a 
single man of his was scratched. The way 
down to the water was open, but Fowler now 
heard heavy firing and the Pathan cry of attack 
in the direction of the post. So having col- 
lected his men, he retired at once to rejoin 
Lieutenant Edwardes. The enemy's attack 
was repulsed by this latter officer before 
Fowlers return, but the attempt to obtain water 
had to be abandoned for the night. 



On the following day nothing of importance 
occurred, and that night the defenders succeeded 
in reaching the river and bringing back water, 
the supply of which was still further replenished 
by collecting the rain in waterproof sheets. A 
well was sunk to a depth of twelve feet, but as 
rock was then struck, the attempt to procure 
water in that manner had to be abandoned. 

On the morning of the 13th a white flag was 
shown by the enemy, and a Pathan shouted out 
" Cease firing ! " The defenders also hoisted a 
white flag, and sent out Jemadar Lai Khan to 
parley with the Pathan while every man stood 
to his post. After some talk, the Jemadar 
returned with the report that Mohamed Isa, 
Sher Afzul's right-hand man, had just arrived 
from Chitral with a following to stop the 
fighting and speak with the British officers. 
Lieutenant Edwardes sent word in reply that 
if Mohamed Isa would come to the defenders' 
side of a gap in the wall of the polo ground, 
situated only sixty yards from the wall of the 
houses held by the British officers, and entirely 
under fire from the defenders, one of the British 
officers would go out and meet him. Mohamed 


Isa agreed to do this : he came to the gap, and 
Lieutenant Edwardes then went out to talk 
with him, while Lieutenant Fowler remained 
inside the post with his men standing ready to 
arms in case of treachery. 

When Lieutenant Edwardes met Mohamed 
Isa, that prince informed him that he had just 
arrived from Chitral, where Sher Afzul and Dr. 
Robertson were corresponding with a view to 
the former being recognised as Mehtar. Mo- 
hamed Isa said that all fighting had ceased, 
and that he was most anxious to be friends 
with the Indian Government. After some talk 
between the British officer and the Chitral 
prince, the conditions of an armistice were 
arranged, and it was stipulated that the British 
force should remain within their walls, that no 
firing should take place, that no Chitralis were 
to approach the walls, that water-carriers were 
to be allowed to go down to the river, and that 
supplies were to be provided by the Chitralis. 
Lieutenant Edwardes also wrote a letter to Dr. 
Robertson in Chitral, and to the officer com- 
manding at Mastuj, stating in English that an 
armistice had been arranged, and adding in 

E 2 


French what his losses had been, and express- 
ing very great doubt of his being able to beat 
off any further assault. Having arranged these 
conditions, Lieutenant Edwardes returned to 
the post. 

The bhistis were sent down to fetch water, 
and supplies were brought to the fort wall by 
the Chitralis. The night following passed in 
quiet, but vigilance was not relaxed. Rain fell 
heavily during the night, and a quantity of 
water was collected in waterproof sheets. In 
the afternoon of the 14th of March a further 
parley was asked for, and on the arrival of 
Mohamed Isa, accompanied now by another 
Chitrali prince named Yadgar Beg, at the 
former place of meeting, Lieutenant Edwardes 
again went out to confer with him, while 
Lieutenant Fowler remained, as before, inside 
the fortified post. Yadgar Beg confirmed to 
Lieutenant Edwardes the story previously 
told by Mohamed Isa, and both the princes 
were full of protestations of friendship. 
Yadgar Beg said he had a large following 
who desired to be friends, and not enemies, 
of the British. The same afternoon the bhistis 


were again sent to bring in water, and having 
to go some distance through the village, they 
reported that the houses were full of Pathans. 
They were not, however, ill-treated in any way, 
and Mohamed Isa sent in a sheep and other 
supplies to the British officers. Lieutenant 
Edwardes sent another letter to inform Dr. 
Robertson of the presumed strengthening of 
the enemy, and to let him know that the rations 
would not last beyond the 17th of March, i.e. 
three days hence. 

So far the relations between the British 
officers and the Chitralis had been conducted 
upon an apparently friendly footing, the aim of 
the Chitralis being to lull the British into a sense 
of security. On the afternoon of the following 
day, the 15th of March, occurred that act of 
treachery by which the two officers were cap- 
tured, and the greater number of their men lost 
their lives. In the afternoon, Mohamed Isa 
sent in word that now peace was restored, he 
and his men wished to amuse themselves, and 
he asked permission to play polo on the ground 
immediately outside the post which the British 
party were occupying. It seemed to the 


British officers that there could be no harm in 
granting this permission, for no man riding on 
the polo ground could escape their fire, and 
they therefore decided to grant Mohamed Isa's 
request. The Chitrali prince then sent to ask 
that both officers would come and look on, as 
so far he had only seen Lieutenant Edwardes. 
He also offered to lend the officers ponies on 
which to play polo. The British officers con- 
sidered that as they had trusted the Chitralis so 
far, they might trust them further ; so when 
Mohamed Isa and his men arrived upon the 
polo ground, both Lieutenant Fowler and 
Edwardes, having previously ordered their men 
to their posts which commanded the entire polo 
ground, went out to meet the Chitralis. A bed- 
stead was placed in the gap in the wall of the 
polo ground, on the spot where the former 
meetings had taken place, and Mohamed Isa 
sat next to the officers until the men were ready 
to begin the game. The British officers were 
asked to play polo, but refused. Mohamed Isa, 
however, joined in the game, while Yadgar Beg 
sat with Edwardes and Fowler. A third arrival 
from Chitral, speaking to the British officers, 


confirmed the story of Mohamed Isa and Yad- 
gar Beg, that peace between the British and 
the Chitralis had been made. 

The polo ground at Reshun is about fifty 
yards broad and one hundred and twenty yards 
long, and slopes away from the post occupied 
by the British, the further side of the ground 
not being covered by the fire of the British 
garrison. Lieutenant Edwardes asked Mohamed 
Isa to order the men, who numbered about one 
hundred and fifty, and who were armed with 
rifles and swords, to go to the further side of 
the ground. The officers had some tea made 
and brought out for the Chitralis to drink. 
After the polo was over, Mohamed Isa asked 
if the men might dance, as is the custom of the 
country at the conclusion of a game. The 
British officers consented, and the dance began. 
Then under the excuse that there was a wet 
place in front of the officers, the bedstead on 
which they were seated was moved to the 
right, bringing it under cover of the end of the 
wall and the polo ground. The officers found 
it difficult to object to this, as it seemed im- 
possible that any attempt at treachery could be 


unattended by heavy loss to the Chitralis. As 
the dance proceeded, more men began to 
collect and to press forward in a ring round the 
dancers, and the officers observed that a number 
had come over to the wall side of the polo 
ground. At a pause in the dance the officers 
stood up and said that they were tired, and 
would now go back to their post. On this 
Mohamed Isa himself suddenly seized the 
British officers, and a rush of men was made 
upon them, and they were dragged under cover 
of the wall. A volley was immediately fired 
by the British garrison ; but the Chitralis kept 
under the wall, and none of them seemed to 
have been hit. Firing then became general 
for a short time, till it gradually died down into 
single shots fired at intervals. The officers in the 
meantime had their feet and hands bound, and 
were dragged by the legs along the ground away 
from the gap. All their buttons, badges, etc., 
were violently torn off and their pockets rifled, 
and Fowler's boots and stockings were taken off. 
In about half an hour the officers saw the enemy 
carry off some of their dead and wounded, and 
men came out laden with loot. They also saw 


at least one Kashmir sepoy being driven along 
with a load. With their arms still bound, the 
officers were taken off to the house in which 
Mohamed Isa lived, where they were seated in 
a verandah. What happened to the garrison of 
the post they could not at the time ascertain ; 
but they subsequently met twelve of their men 
in Chitral, and it appears that the Chitralis 
rushed the place, killed numbers of the men, 
and carried these few off as prisoners. 

In remarking upon the defence, the British 
officers say they had frequently considered the 
question of destroying a portion of the ammuni- 
tion in their charge. This ammunition had 
now fallen into the hands of the enemy, and 
was a great advantage to them. It would have 
been well, therefore, if the British officers could 
have managed to have destroyed it ; but they 
say that in the hurry of improvising the defence 
on the first night of the siege, they had been 
compelled to build the ammunition boxes up 
into a rude parapet, to afford a cover to their 
men. Subsequently these boxes had been 
covered up with beams, bricks, kits, and ddbris, 
and it was consequently very difficult to get 


them out without pulling down the cover so 
much needed. The moonlight nights, too, had 
rendered the removal of them very risky, as the 
long beams necessitated making large gaps, and 
any noise inside the post immediately drew the 
fire from the enemy, which was very effective 
in the moonlight. Moreover, the ammunition 
was intended for the use of local levies who 
were expected from Gilgit, and these levies 
without the ammunition would have been 
perfectly useless. 

The British officers determined therefore to 
keep it till they could hold out no longer, and 
to then destroy it. Lieutenant Edwardes had 
also to consider the advisability of making 
sorties ; but though he could have doubtless 
driven off the enemy for a time by such sorties, 
yet he recognised that he would have lost men 
in doing so, aiid with the small number at 
his disposal he could not afford to lose a single 

The subsequent adventures of the two officers 
form a thrilling tale. After passing the night 
bound at Reshun, with a man holding on to a 
rope fastened to each of them, Lieutenant 


Fowler was sent towards Chitral, led at the end 
of a rope and under the escort of two Pathans 
and two Chitralis. On the following day Lieu- 
tenant Edwardes, who was at first to have been 
sent to Mastuj, was sent to join Lieutenant 
Fowler. On the way there they were me>t by 
a sergeant and ten men of Umra Khan, who, 
after quarrelling with the Chitralis, insisted upon 
taking them on as their prisoners. On the 19th 
of March the two officers reached Chitral, and 
were met there by a colonel and about a hun- 
dred men of Umra Khan*s army. They were 
led into the presence of Majid Khan, Umra 
Khan's representative and half-brother, and 
now his successor in the rule of the Jandul 
State. The two officers were received civilly, 
and the Janduli prince expressed regret at the 
course of events, and of the treachery which 
had been practised on the British officers. He 
assured them of good treatment, and after a 
short interview the officers were marched with 
an escort of forty men to see Sher Afzul, the 
claimant to the throne of Chitral. The escort 
accompanied the British officers into the room 
in which they found Sher Afzul sitting, sur- 


rounded by a strong escort, and with a loaded 
rifle in his lap. He received the British officers 
civilly, and gave them tea and cakes. He also 
talked to them at great length of the negoti- 
ations which had taken place between him and 
Dr. Robertson. He further expressed sorrow 
at the treachery which had been used to them, 
and said that he would see to their comfort, 
and arrange supplies as far as possible, though 
supplies were difficult to obtain, as everything 
had been taken into the fort. Both Sher Afzul 
and Majid Khan, at the earnest request of Lieu- 
tenant Edwardes, promised to make strict 
search for all men of their party who might still 
be alive. The two officers were permitted to 
communicate with the British garrison besieged 
in the fort, but were not allowed to visit them. 
It was the object of the besiegers to let the 
defenders know, without doubt, the disaster 
which had befallen the British detachment, in 
order to depress as far as possible the spirit of 
the defence. 

On the evening of March 20th, Lieutenants 
Edwardes and Fowler saw the native clerk of 
the political agent, who had been allowed to 


come out from the fort for the purpose of com- 
municating with the officers, but all conversation 
had to be carried on in the presence of the 
Pathans and Chitralis. No talk in English was 
permitted, and the officers were only allowed to 
ask in Hindustani for clothing, plates, knives, 
forks, etc. 

On the 2 1 st of March the officers received 
from their beleaguered comrades in the fort 
some clothing and necessaries, and they again 
saw the political agents native clerk in the 
presence of Sher Afzul and Majid Khan and 
others. These princes explained to the British 
officers their view of the situation, which was 
that they did not wish to fight the British if 
they would retire to Gilgit or Peshawur, and 
they asked Lieutenant Edwardes to ask one of 
the officers in the fort to come up and meet 
them. A letter was accordingly written to 
Lieutenant Gurdon inside the fort, telling him 
that if he met them under the walls of the fort 
they would give him some useful information. 
But no reply was received from Lieutenant 
Gurdon, and there is no doubt that the only 
object of the besiegers was to capture the other 


officers of the garrison in as treacherous a way 
as they had seized Lieutenants Fowler and 

On the 24th of March the two captured 
British officers were sent towards Drosh to meet 
Umra Khan, the Pathan chief. Here on the 
following day they had a long interview with 
this important ruler. Umra Khan they found 
to be of a tall and manly appearance, with a 
straightforward, commanding manner of speak- 
ing, and with a great influence over his men. 
On these, and on all other occasions, he treated 
his captives with civility and consideration. He 
now gave them a choice of returning to Chitral, 
or of going with him to his native country of 
Jandul, some seven or eight marches to the 
south. As the chief would not allow the sepoys 
to go with the British officers to Chitral, they 
decided upon accepting the alternative of accom- 
panying Umra Khan to Jandul, and started for 
that place on the following day. 

Umra Khan had given orders that everything 
that could be obtained should be given to them 
before himself, but his followers did not carry 
out tuese orders, and the officers suffered much 


from bad food and bad quarters on the way. 
From the Chitral fort they had obtained a bag 
of sugar and a pound of tea, which they con- 
sidered great luxuries, and they cooked food with 
the assistance of the sepoys who from Chitral 
onwards were accompanying them. The officers 
were never in any way threatened, but they 
knew that they were always liable to be killed 
by some fanatic who might have a blood feud 
against the British. A strong guard, armed 
with loaded rifles, accompanied them, however, 
arid never for a moment allowed them to go 
more than a few yards from them, and this was 
doubtless as much for their protection as to 
prevent their escape. The guard always had 
in it some men who had served in our Indian 
army, and although many of them were ex- 
tremely ruffian-like in appearance, and probably 
were thorough scoundrels, yet they mostly 
treated the officers in an easy and friendly 
manner, and were always willing to share with 
them the scanty rations they obtained on the 
march. The officers on the way occupied the 
ordinary country houses, which were very dark 
and dirty, and full of smoke and insects. The 


guard of ten men or more always slept and lived 
in the same room as the officers, and as most of 
them had colds and coughs, and were inces- 
santly spitting on the floor, the prisoners had 
little quiet. The sepoy prisoners were given 
the same food as was served out to Umra Khan's 
men. But this ration on the march was a very 
small one. 

The three Hindu prisoners were made to learn 
the Kalin, and their hair was cut ; but they were 
not made to publicly declare themselves Mussul- 
mans, and they never really changed their faith. 
No attempt was ever made to induce the officers 
to become Mohammedans, nor was any fanatical 
feeling displayed by the people whom they met. 
The men would eat the officers' bread, and gave 
them some of theirs. The Pathans would often 
ask the officers how they managed to exist with- 
out wine, and while in Chitral the officers were 
offered the contents of all the medicine bottles 
taken in the hospital outside the fort as a sub- 
stitute. This delicate attention was however 

The prisoners were naturally an object of great 
curiosity to the people, and crowds gathered to 


see them. These people specially delighted to 
see the officers eat with knife and fork, and 
laughed at their attempts to eat with their 
fingers. This curiosity on the part of the popu- 
lace the British officers found to be somewhat 
annoying, and the guard soon discovering that 
they did not like visitors at meal times, kept 
them off while the officers were eating ; but at 
other times the prisoners received the public, 
and sat to be inspected whilst conversing with 
the people through interpreters. Umra Khan 
himself, as has been said, always treated his 
captives with civility, and was much interested 
in talking with them, and as long as he was 
with them and had leisure sent for them every 
day. He twice took them out hawking, and 
asked them to walk alongside him. The 
officers were not allowed to communicate with 
any one, except through the chief, nor were 
they allowed any writing materials, but they 
had obtained some paper and a pencil in Chitral 
and managed to keep a short diary of each day 
hid in their clothes. They were allowed to 
purchase materials with which to make clothes 
for themselves and their sepoys, and the traders 



gave them credit on their written acknow- 

Marching towards Jandul, the party on the 
28th of March reached the Lowarai Pass, 10,000 
feet in height, and now covered deep in snow. 
Leaving Ashreth, the last Chitrali village on 
the north side of the Pass, they ascended the 
deep narrow rocky valley to the Pass. At four 
miles from the summit they had to send back 
their ponies as the snow was now too soft to 
allow of their being taken over. They then 
had a very stiff pull up on foot, and on the top 
were caught in a violent storm of hail and snow. 
The wind was bitterly cold, and they were 
almost blinded by the driven snow. On the 
other side one of their sepoys complained of 
pain in the stomach, and he was left behind 
with another sepoy to look after him, but he 
died at night. Soon after dark the officers 
reached Dir, having marched twenty-four miles 
and crossed a difficult pass. Here at Dir, how- 
ever, they were given better quarters and 
better food. On the 30th of March they 
marched to Barwa, Umra Khan's chief fort, 
crossing the Jhanbatai Pass, 7,000 feet high, 

The Lowarat Pass. 


from which they could obtain a view over 
the Pathan chiefs own native valley. On the 
summit of the Pass, Umra Khan seated the 
British officers beside him, and, giving them 
food and sweetmeats, asked them how they 
liked his country. For a long time he sat there 
with the officers at his side gazing over his native 
valley stretched out at his feet, and then pro- 
ceeding down the hill-side he was met by crowds 
of men on horseback and on foot as he marched 
into Barwa. 

The officers remained here about a fortnight ; 
but on the ist of April the Mussulman sepoys 
were told that they could consider themselves 
at liberty, and the guard over them was removed. 
A native officer accordingly left and proceeded 
to Peshawur, where he brought the news of the 
disaster to his party. 

News now began to come in of the fighting 
between General Low's force and the Pathan 
tribes, and great excitement prevailed. Num- 
bers of men began clearing out, taking all 
their goods with them to hide on the hill-sides. 
It is a remarkable point that as the panic 
increased, the officers received greater attention, 

F 2 


and at the approach of our troops they were 
supplied with two fowls, flour, rice, butter and 
milk daily. On the 12th of April both of the 
officers were taken to Munda, Umra Khans 
strongest fort. There they met a native political 
officer who had been sent by the British 
authorities to treat with Umra Khan. A long 
conversation took place between Umra Khan 
and the native official, the upshot of which was 
that Lieutenant Edwardes was made the bearer 
of two letters to the British General, and given 
his release. Umra Khan explained to him his 
views at great length, and under an escort he 
left at midnight. Taking a circuitous route to 
avoid a collection of ruffians in the valley, he 
arrived at 10 a.m. at Sadoo, the head-quarters of 
the British forces now advancing to the relief of 
Chitral. Umra Khan hoped by delivering up 
the British officer to stave off the punishment 
which the British forces were now at hand to 
inflict upon him. But General Low did not stay 
his advance for a moment. He pushed steadily 
on towards Umra Khan's stronghold at Munda, 
and on April the 16th Umra Khan played his 
second card, and released Lieutenant Fowler. 


But still General Low pressed on as will 
presently be described. 

Both officers had now unexpectedly obtained 
their release. They had suffered the greatest 
hardships, and lived in daily peril of their lives, 
but they spoke with something like enthusiasm 
of the good treatment they had received at 
Umra Khan's hands. It was sometimes no 
easy matter for that chief to keep off those who 
had wished to injure the British officers ; and on 
one occasion after Lieutenant Edwardes had left, 
Fowler had had an anxious time owing" to the 
presence of many fanatics from outside striving 
to gain an entrance into the fort. There had 
nearly been a pitched fight between Umra 
Khans men and these wild ruffians, and a few 
days afterwards when I stood with him in Umra 
Khan s fort, Lieutenant Fowler, standing in the 
doorway of the house he had occupied as a 
prisoner only three days before, had shown me 
the spot where these fanatics came clamouring 
round his guard, and trying to obtain access to 
him. But Umra Khan succeeded in protecting 
him throughout. He gave back to Lieutenant 
Edwardes his own sword which had been 


seized at Reshun, and which Umra Khan had 
received as a present from Chitral ; and he 
promised to obtain Lieutenant Fowler's also, if 
it could be found. " We both consider/' say 
the British officers, at the close of their report, 
"that Umra Khan treated us very well indeed, 
and that he never intended to be the direct 
cause of injury to us under any circumstance." 

So ended the wonderful adventures of these 
two British subalterns. When they were hold- 
ing out at Reshun, and making their last stand 
in a mere village house against overwhelming 
numbers of the enemy ; and again, when they 
were treacherously captured by a deceitful foe ; 
and lastly, when they were in the hands of men 
in the fever-heat of rebellion against the British, 
no one would have supposed that they could 
ever have escaped alive. But they had sur- 
vived every peril, and were now once more in 
safety among their fellow-countrymen. 

How General Low advanced to the Relief 
has now to be related. 



From the time that Lord Roberts made his 

famous march from Kabul to Kandahar, the 

Indian Army had hitherto taken part in no 

campaign so rapid, brilliant, and successful as 

the operations which resulted in the relief of the 

sorely pressed garrison of Chitral. No element 

was wanting to call forth the keenest instincts of 

the soldier, or to arouse the anxious interest of 

those who watched with breathless suspense 

the keen struggle, as the columns pushed 

forward over high mountain passes, girth deep 

in snow, across rivers broad and deep, swollen 

with rain and melting snow, and fiercely opposed 

by the desperate bravery of mountain warriors 

born and bred to the sword. When therefore 

within three short weeks the welcome news was 

flashed down the wire that Chitral was relieved, 



and that the British agent and his escort had 
been snatched from a horrible fate, there was 
perhaps hardly a corner of the British Empire 
which did not feel proud of the hardy leaders 
and brave men who had so signally upheld the 
proud standard of British resource, pluck, and 

The general plan of operations was this. 
The i st Division of all arms, some 1 5,000 strong, 
belonging to the 1st Army Corps was to mobilise 
at Peshawur, and moving from a southerly 
position as rapidly as possible, was to pass 
through Swat and Dir, falling on the rear of 
Umra Khan. At the same time a small column 
some 400 strong was to move from Chilas and 
taking the wide circuit through Gilgit and 
Mastuj, was to endeavour to force its way to 
Chitral from a north-easterly direction. 

Before the opening of the campaign, our 
knowledge of that portion of the theatre of 
operations which lies between the Peshawur 
Valley and Chitral territory was limited almost 
entirely to such information as had been collated 
from the reports of natives. This information 
though defective in accuracy of detail, yet 


described with sufficient exactness, the main 
physical difficulties to be overcome. Speaking 
generally, the theatre of war was crossed trans- 
versely by ranges of high mountains and rapid 
rivers, each in itself a formidable obstacle, 
culminating in the lofty range through which a 
pass 10,450 feet high alone gave access to 
Chitral. Of the country which lies between 
Chilas and Chitral, by the route followed by 
Colonel Kelly's column, we had accurate 
knowledge, the route having been frequently 
traversed by troops and an accurate survey 
made. The stupendous task placed before 
Colonel Kelly, moving at this time of year, could 
therefore be fairly gauged beforehand. 

With the fuller knowledge we now possess it 
is possible to give more in detail the physical 
features of the country through which the 
Relief column of Peshawur passed. Skirting 
the broad open plain in which Peshawur is situ- 
ated is a range of mountains varying from 3,000 
feet to 6,000 feet in height, and known locally 
and collectively as the " border hills," for, 
generally speaking, the British border runs 
along the foot of this range. Beyond the 


border range lies the richly cultivated Swat 
Valley, varying in width from two miles to three 
miles, and having an extent of some thirty-six 
miles lengthways. Down this valley flows the 
Swat River, a considerable stream at all times of 
the year, but after the snows begin to melt, and 
the summer rains burst, a large and rapid river. 
Some estimate of the size of the river may be 
gained by noting that at the point first bridged 
by our troops, it is about half-a-mile wide from 
bank to bank, being split up into seven channels 
each requiring a separate bridge. The north 
side of the Swat Valley is formed by the Laram 
range of mountains varying from 5,000 feet to 
6,000 feet in height. Beyond the Laram range 
we come to the southern extremity of the Princi- 
pality of Dir, down the main valley of which 
flows the formidable and treacherous Panjkora 
River. This river which one day is fordable 
may the next be found a roaring torrent, many 
feet deep ; indeed on one occasion it rose four- 
teen feet within a few hours, with little or no 
warning. The Panjkora Valley throughout its 
length is narrow, with steep rocky spurs con- 
stantly running down to the waters edge, and 




except in the depth of winter when the water 
is at its lowest, was not suitable, without exten- 
sive road making, for the passage of troops. 

Lying to the east of the Panjkora Valley, and 
separated from it by high ranges, we find the 
broad, open, fertile valleys of Jandul and Bajaur, 
the former of these being the original home 
and limited territory of the chief Umra Khan, 
against whose power the British expedition was 
mainly directed. Skirting the north end of the 
Jandul Valley comes the Janbatai range, varying 
from 6,000 feet to 10,000 feet in height, crossing 
which we drop into a series of narrow, rocky 
valleys which betoken the approaches to some 
great mountain range. Such are the Baraul 
and Upper Dir Valleys, with no room for culti- 
vation on any scale, and barely capable of 
supporting a miserably poor and backward race. 
Running transversely across the north corner of 
Dir territory we come to the mighty range of 
mountains, from 10,000 feet to 20,000 feet in 
height, over which the Lowarai Pass alone gives 
military access to the Chitral Valley. The 
Chitral Valley is itself very narrow and rocky, 
much on a par with the Panjkora Valley, and 


was, till a track was cut, very difficult for the 
passage of troops. 

Briefly it may be stated that four high ranges 
of mountains, and three considerable rivers, 
besides mountain torrents, had to be crossed by 
the Southern column of the Relief Force. 

The country through which the small 
Northern column under Colonel Kelly had to 
pass was still more rough and rugged. Moreover 
he was practically isolated and had to depend 
entirely on his own resources for those necessi- 
ties which are requisite for pushing an armed 
force through a difficult country under the most 
unfavourable climatic conditions. The highest 
pass which was crossed by this column was 
over 12,000 feet, the account of the passage of 
which will appear when the heroic struggle of 
this column is dealt with in detail. 

Speaking generally then, the theatre of war 
may be described as a mass of mountains, 
amidst which wind deep and rapid torrents, 
whilst here and there may be found small open 
valleys with sufficient supplies only to maintain 
the inhabitants. 

As mentioned before, incidentally, the plan 

The Lowakai Pass in May. 




of operations for the Relief of Chitral consisted 
of a combined movement from north and south, 
the Southern column being a strong force 
capable of holding it own against any combin- 
ation that might arise, whilst the Northern 
column consisted of a mere handful of men 
lightly equipped, whose errand it was to arrive 
as soon as possible, and by the moral effect 
of their arrival more than by actual force of 
arms, to prolong the siege sufficiently for the 
arrival of the main relief force. The Southern 
force was based on Nowshera (near Peshawur) 
whilst the Northern column was based on 

The enemy s main base of operations was 
Jandul, the home of the ruling spirit in the 
camp of the besiegers of Chitral. Hence Umra 
Khan drew the pick of his men, his treasure 
lay here, and such arms and ammunition as he 
possessed were drawn from here. If we look 
at Jandul on the map and examine its relative 
position to Chitral and Peshawur we shall at 
once see that a decisive blow struck from the 
direction of Peshawur must inevitably jeopardize 
Umra Khans base of operations, with the pro- 


bable result that he would be compelled to leave 
Chitral and retreat hastily to defend his own 
country. The Peshawur column in fact by the 
nature of its march must take him directly in 
rear, and he must either abandon his own 
country to the invader in the hope of first 
striking a decisive blow at Chitral, afterwards 
turning on his tracks to meet Sir Robert Low, 
or else he must perforce abandon the siege and 
concentrate his forces to meet the British before 
they could gain a footing in his territory. The 
relative position of the belligerents being thus, 
it is apparent that the first objective of the main 
column of the Relief Force was Jandul. But 
though at first sight the advantage of position 
lay with the British, yet one important item 
entered into the problem which made the 
balance even, and that was the consideration 
of time. It was calculated that the Chitral 
garrison was only provisioned up to the end 
of April, and therefore to effect its relief a de- 
cisive blow must be struck before that date. Such 
a possibility Umra Khan and his lieutenant 
Sher Afzul were inclined to discountenance. 
An organised army moves slowly, immense 




physical difficulties stood in its way, and the 
inveterate animosity of 30,000 tribesmen could 
infallibly be counted upon. In a matter which 
depended upon days and even hours here lay a 
distinct advantage on the side of the besiegers. 

Orders were issued for the mobilisation at 
Peshawur of the 1st Division of the 1st Army 
Corps on March 19th, the base being after- 
wards shifted to Nowshera as more convenient. 
This being the first occasion on which a serious- 
mobilisation of any part of the army had been* 
attempted, the experiment was watched with 
much interest by military critics. It must be 
remembered that to mobilise a force on the 
Indian frontier is a far more complicated and 
difficult problem than to mobilise a force at 
Metz or Strasburg. In Europe many railways 
lead to important points of concentration, the 
distances are comparatively short, and countries 
which are likely to become the theatre of war 
are intersected by numerous railways as well as 
roads suitable for heavy wheeled traffic. Large 
towns and flourishing villages are to be found 
at the end of every march, and the country 
invaded is capable of supplying to a very great 


extent the wants of the invaders in the matter 
of commissariat and transport. Far differently 
situated is a force on the Indian frontier destined 
to penetrate into the inhospitable mountains 
which frown along its whole length from the 
Bay of Bengal to the deserts of Beluchistan. 
For such a force in addition to food for the men 
nearly all the grain, and much even of the hay 
for the animals, has to been carried up to the 
most advanced troops from the base in India, 
and carried not along macadamised roads in 
capacious carts, but by mountain paths where 
pack transport is alone possible. 

There is a popular error that the impedimenta 
of an Indian Division is enormous ; indeed, it 
has been gravely stated by a serious military 
critic that it is no uncommon thing for regi- 
ments in India to take their mahogany mess 
tables on service with them. Of course only 
ignorance of the country and its ways, with a 
hazy recollection of Chillianwallah and the 
historic mess table of the 24th Foot, could be 
responsible for such an erroneous statement. 
As a matter of fact during this campaign the 
.allowance per man for everything was 10 lbs., 


and per officer 40 lbs., and no tents were allowed. 
When we consider that an ordinary soldiers 
blanket weighs 4 or 5 lbs., an allowance of 
10 lbs. need not be called extravagant in a 
country where snow and ice, heavy rain, and 
the fiery heat of the sun had in turns to be 
encountered. Yet marching thus light 28,000 
pack animals had to be collected to feed and 
maintain the force. It will be apparent, then, 
that the problem of mobilisation on the Indian 
frontier is very materially complicated by the 
conditions that exist. Not only the troops and 
their stores have to be concentrated, but also 
many thousands of pack animals, and the food 
for the entire force, man and beast, for as long 
as the campaign lasts. Add to this that units 
had in some cases to come immense distances, 
that the line of railway was a single one, and 
that the detraining station was a small roadside 
station without platforms, or conveniences, for 
disembarking troops, animals, and stores, and 
we have a compendium of difficulties which 
would try severely the most perfectly organised 
scheme of mobilisation. 

It was therefore a source of gratification to the 



military authorities that the scheme and the 
railway stood so well the severe test applied to 
them. On the ist of April the Division, fully 
equipped and provisioned, made the first march 
of the campaign. The force consisted of three 
Infantry Brigades, each of four regiments, two 
of which were British and two native ; the 
Divisional troops consisted of two regiments 
of cavalry, four batteries of Mountain Artillery, 
one 1 regiment of Pioneers, and three 1 com- 
panies of Sappers and Miners. In addition, 
three regiments of infantry were told off as lines 
of communication troops. The command of 
the force was given to Lieutenant-General Sir 
Robert Low, K.C.B., with Brigadier-General 
Bindon Blood, C.B., Royal Engineers, as his 
chief staff officer. The three brigades were 
commanded by Brigadier-Generals A. A. 
Kinloch, C.B., H. G. Waterfield, and W. F. 
Gatacre, D.S.O. ; whilst the lines of communi- 
cation were entrusted to Brigadier- General 
A. G. Hammond, V.C., C.B., D.S.O., A.D.C. 

The column under Colonel Kelly will be 
dealt with separately in a later chapter. 

1 Afterwards increased. 



If we look at the map of the country we 

shall see that the frontier at this point is crossed 

by three main passes, all leading into the Swat 

Valley. These passes, in order from east to 

west, are the Mora Pass, the Shahkot Pass, 

and the Malakand Pass. All were reported 

equally difficult and each about 3,500 feet high, 

with a rough footpath, possible for laden 

animals, leading over each. From reasons of 

policy it was decided not to use the Mora Pass, 

with the idea of not disturbing unnecessarily 

possibly hostile tribes on that flank. There 

remained the Shahkot and Malakand Passes. 

A proclamation was sent on in advance to 

the people of Swat, saying that the British 

Government had no hostile intentions against 

them, but merely asked for right of way through 
g 2 83 


their territory; such a concession being liberally 
paid for. Had the people of Swat elected to 
accept these pacific terms a simultaneous advance 
would have been made by both passes ; but 
intelligence was received that all the passes were 
strongly held, and especially so the Shahkot 
Pass. Sir Robert Low therefore decided to 
merely threaten the Shahkot and Mora Passes, 
whilst his real attack was made on the Mala- 
kand Pass. With this plan in view the ist 
Brigade bivouacked at Lundkwar in full sight 
of, and directly threatening, the Shahkot Pass ; 
whilst a strong cavalry reconnaissance was 
made towards the Mora Pass to stir up dust 
and to distract the enemy's attention from the 
true point of attack. The passes are, roughly 
speaking, about seven miles apart, and as soon 
as it was found that the enemy was irrevocably 
committed to defend all those passes, Sir Robert 
Low issued orders to concentrate on his left, 
and with his whole force stormed the Malakand 

The battle took place on April 3rd, on the 
very day that Colonel Kelly's column crossed 
the Shandur Pass far away to the north, the 2nd 

The Malakand Pass. 


Brigade under Brigadier-General Waterfield 
leading, supported by the ist Brigade under 
Brigadier-General Kinloch, whilst the 3rd Bri- 
gade under Brigadier-General Gatacre was held 
in reserve. The enemy's position extended 
along the crest of the pass, holding the heights 
on either flank, whilst a series of breastworks 
built of stone, each commanding the one below, 
were pushed down the main spurs. The posi- 
tion was of extraordinary strength, and one 
which in the hands of an organised enemy would 
have taken a week to capture. The enemy's 
numbers were afterwards found to be about 
12,000, about half of whom were armed, whilst 
the remainder were occupied in carrying off the 
killed and wounded, fetching water, and bowling 
down huge rocks on the assaulting columns. 
The extent of the position may be put down at 
one and a half miles. The regiments chiefly 
engaged were the King's Own Scottish Bor- 
derers, the Gordon Highlanders, the Guides, 
and the 4th Sikhs, all of the 2nd Brigade ; and 
the Bedfordshire Regiment, the 60th Rifles, the 
15th Sikhs, and the 37th Dogras composing 
the ist Brigade. Three mountain batteries 


massed under Major Dacres Cunningham also 
took a conspicuous part in the fight, whilst three 
Maxim guns also did their share towards 
defeating the enemy. 

The plan of attack was as follows. The 
Guides supported later by the 4th Sikhs, were 
to scale the precipitous height on the extreme 
right of the enemy's position, then turning in- 
wards the two regiments were to sweep along 
the crest, taking the enemy in flank whilst the 
frontal attack was pushed home. It was calcu- 
lated that the Guides would take three hours to 
reach the crest, but so stern was the resistance, 
and so jagged and perpendicular the ascent, 
that it took these practised mountaineers five 
hours before they had captured the last sangar 
and crowned the heights. Meanwhile as the 
day was drawing on it was considered inadvis- 
able to delay longer the frontal attack, for the 
enemy had been now under a most searching 
and accurate shell fire from three batteries for 
the space of upwards of three hours and were 
naturally much shaken by it, whilst the action 
of the Guides had made itself well felt on his 
right flank ; orders were therefore given for the 


King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Gordon 
Highlanders to advance to the attack, each 
being directed up a separate spur. 

It was a fine and stirring sight to see the 
splendid dash with which the two Scotch 
regiments took the hill. From valley to crest 
at this point the height varies from 1,000 to 1,500 
feet and the slope looks for the most part almost 
perpendicular. It was this very steepness 
which partly accounted for the comparatively 
small loss suffered from the enemy's fire and the 
showers of huge boulders which were hurled 
upon the assailants ; but the chief reason for 
this happy immunity was the wonderfully spirited 
manner in which the men rushed breastwork 
after breastwork, and arrived just beneath the 
final ridge before the enemy had time to realise 
that the assaulting columns were at their very 

When the whole of the 2nd Brigade had thus 
got well under way orders were given for the 
1 st Brigade to support them, the 60th Rifles, 
followed by the 15th Sikhs, being sent up a re- 
entrant, which intervened between the King's 
Own Scottish Borderers and the Guides, whilst 


the Bedfordshire Regiment and 37th Dogras, 
heading on up the valley passed across the front 
of the enemy's position, and, circling round the 
rear of the Gordon Highlanders, attacked the 
enemy's extreme left, overlapping it consider- 
ably. The 60th Rifles after ascending some 
way suddenly came across an old Buddhist 
road, and turning sharp to their right along this 
soon found themselves level with the lead- 
ing companies of the King's Own Scottish 
Borderers. The whole line now took a moment's 
breathing time, to collect the men still struggling 
up in small groups, and to get into wind for 
the final rush. As soon as all was ready 
bayonets were fixed, the bugle's cheery call to 
advance was sounded, and with a great shout 
the position which from below appears almost 
impregnable was carried at the point of the 
bayonet ; the three British regiments reaching 
the crest at almost the same moment. Mean- 
while the Guides and 4th Sikhs had stormed 
the lofty peak away on our left, and were ready 
to move inwards if such support had been 
necessary ; whilst the Bedfordshire Regiment 
and 37th Dogras scaling the heights before 


them dashed down the far valley in hot pursuit 
of the enemy, only halting when they reached 
the large walled village of Khar on the Swat 

Thus brilliantly was an exceptionally strong 
position carried, and the first obstacle which lay 
in the path of the Southern column of the Relief 
Force brushed away. The action lasted five 
hours, and it is difficult to praise too highly the 
dash and determination with which the pass 
was carried. Nor is it possible to forget the 
sterling bravery of the enemy, who for five 
hours withstood a most searching and splendidly- 
directed shell fire from three batteries, and yet 
were still firm enough to stand up to a bayonet 
charge at the end of it. Their loss was com- 
puted by themselves at 500 killed, and the 
general average of battles would make their 
wounded probably reach a total of 1,000, or, say, 
a total loss of from 1,250 to 1,500. The British 
loss was under seventy killed and wounded. 

Several curious cases of the vitality of the 
wounded was furnished by both sides. A man 
of the Guides, hit in the region of the stomach, 
climbed down to the foot of the pass, and walked 


five miles back to the Field Hospital, supported 
by a comrade. One of the enemy on the other 
hand, with no less than six bullets through him, 
walked all the way to Chakdara, nine miles off, 
and was afterwards treated by our surgeons, and, 
strange to say, made a rapid recovery. There 
is no doubt that Asiatics can stand wounds 
inflicted by sword or bullet infinitely better than 
Europeans can. Wounds that would kill a 
European, or at any rate lay him up for months, 
affect these hardy and abstemious mountaineers 
in a very much less severe manner. Imagine, 
for instance, having the whole lock of an ex- 
ploded gun blown into one's shoulder, and going 
about as if nothing in particular had happened ! 
Yet such a lock was cut out of a man's shoulder 
months after the occurrence by one of our 
surgeons. Marvellous cases of recovery, with- 
out number, might be told, but perhaps the case 
of quite a young boy is as typical as any. Like 
boys in any other part of the world, hearing 
that a fight was going to take place hard by, he 
naturally determined to go and look on. Whilst 
he was thoroughly enjoying himself in all the 
excitement of the fight, and probably throwing 


stones vigorously, a stray bullet hit him in the 
arm, passing through it in several places and 
splintering it badly. When the pass was taken 
he was found lying wounded, and his wound 
was examined. The doctors decided that he 
must have his arm cut off, or mortification 
would certainly set in, and they gave the boy 
the choice between death or the amputation of 
his arm. He chose the former, but in a few 
days instead of being dead he was better, and in 
a few days more was out and about again. 

Concealed amongst the rocks, boulders, and 
bushes, the enemy formed a most difficult mark 
to hit ; whilst the same causes, combined with 
the steepness of the ground, saved our troops 
from severer loss. The admirable control under 
which our infantry fire was kept may be gauged 
by the fact that the average expenditure of 
ammunition was under seven rounds per man 
throughout the day. 

Of the enemy's bravery it is difficult to speak 
too highly, and individual cases were con- 
spicuous. One leader, carrying a large red and 
white banner, called on his men to charge the 
Scottish Borderers when they were half way up 


the hill. The charge was made, but all his 
followers gradually fell, till the leader alone 
was left. Nothing daunted he held steadily on, 
now and again falling, heavily hit, but up and 
on again without a moments delay, till at last 
he was shot dead close to the British line. 
More desperate courage than this is diffi- 
cult to imagine. Again, one of the enemy's 
drummers, not content with taking his fair 
share of risks, persisted in mounting on to the 
roof of a hut, where he showed up clear and 
conspicuous against the sky line, and thence 
cheered on his comrades. Every now and 
again a bullet would find him out, and he would 
drop to dress his wounds, and then again 
mounting recommenced beating his drum. At 
last a bullet got him through the heart, and he 
fell headlong a hundred yards down the cliff, 
and there lay stark dead, but with his drum 
round his neck, and his arms ready raised to 
strike it. No doubt the great Mahomed will 
find a place for him in the ranks of the 
Mussulman Paradise. 

On the night after the battle, the crest of the 
pass was held by the ist Brigade, with two 


regiments pushed down as far as Khar, whilst 
the 2nd Brigade bivouacked at the south 
entrance of the pass. On the following morn- 
ing commenced the stupendous task of pushing 
over the pass the ammunition, baggage, and 
supplies of the advanced brigades. The only 
available path was a single track very steep and 
much encumbered with boulders, which had 
been hastily improved by working parties of 
Sappers and Pioneers. Up this, from dawn to 
dusk, toiled batch after batch of laden mules, 
and yet at the end of the day small progress 
had been made. At this highly opportune 
moment it was discovered that the old Buddhist 
road, hit off by the 6oth Rifles during the 
assault, led down by a good gradient to the 
plains. Every available man was immediately 
employed in improving this relic of a civilisation 
2,000 years old, with the result that in another 
twenty-four hours the brigades were ready to 
move. Had it not been for this Buddhist 
road, the very existence of which appeared to 
have been forgotten by the present inhabitants, 
it would have taken many days to get the 
division across the Malakand Pass. 


Whilst the work on the pass was going on, 
the i st Brigade moved down into the Swat 
Valley, and was fiercely assailed by several 
thousand of the enemy, who, finding the 
Shahkot and Mora Passes turned, came stream- 
ing westward, determined on a fight. These 
large bodies of men appeared on the spurs which 
flanked the advance of the ist Brigade, and it 
became necessary to hold them in check till the 
brigade with its baggage could get clear into 
the open valley. This duty was successfully 
performed by the 37th Dogras, who crowned a 
neighbouring spur, as well as by the Mountain 
Artillery, which kept the enemy's crest well 
swept. Towards evening, however, the enemy, 
mistaking the defensive attitude of our troops, 
who were merely covering the advance of the 
remainder, were reported to be boldly issuing 
into the plain to the number of 2,000, making 
as if to sweep round the foot of the spur where 
it meets the plain, with a view to charging on 
to the head and flank of the advancing column. 
Receiving warning of this movement, orders 
were immediately given for the mere handful 
of cavalry which had been able so far to struggle 


over the pass to trot round the spur, and to 
watch for a chance of falling on the enemy in 
the open. This small body consisted of fifty 
sabres of the Guides Cavalry under Captain R. 
B. Adams and Lieutenant G. M. Baldwin, who, 
on reconnoitring round the spur, found the enemy 
in the open, but, like all mountaineers, hugging 
the foothills. Seeing his chance, Captain 
Adams, with great promptness and boldness, 
charged, doing great execution, and driving the 
whole mass of the enemy headlong into the 
hills. Not only was the charge brilliant and 
effective, but the moral effect was enormous. 
The enemy had not the remotest notion that 
any cavalry had crossed the pass, and like all 
nations unaccustomed to horses, they had 
exaggerated notions of the power of cavalry. 
When, therefore, they saw their worst fears 
more than realised, and fifty sabres without a 
moments hesitation charging a couple of 
thousand foot soldiers and completely altering 
the aspect of the fight, the ascendency of the 
cavalry arm was established for the campaign. 
Even Fowler and Edwardes, in their far-off 
captivity, heard nothing reiterated so much as 


this dread of cavalry. The immediate result 
was that the enemy began to melt away 
even from the hill tops, and by next morning 
not a vestige of them was to be seen. Our 
losses on this day were slight, including seven 
or eight in the cavalry, whilst the enemy suffered 
severely, at least 250 being killed. 

On the 5th and 6th of April, reconnaissances 
under the Chief Staff Officer, General Blood, 
were pushed up the valley to search for fords 
across the Swat River, and to keep in touch 
with the enemy, who could be seen in consider- 
able force beyond Thana. Suitable points of 
passage having been found, the duty of forcing 
the passage was entrusted to General Waterfield 
and the 2nd Brigade. The enemy now left 
Thana and crossing the river were reinforced 
by a body of riflemen sent down by Umra Khan 
under the command of his brother. In all about 
4,500 men were posted in a naturally strong posi- 
tion to oppose the passage of the British force. 
On the enemy's bank small rocky hills at the 
waters edge, completely commanded the per- 
fectly level and open southern bank, from which 
the attack had to be delivered. Naturally a 


frontal attack would have been very costly, 
but General Waterfield's smart tactical instinct 
showed him the way to gain his end with but 
slight loss. Engaging the enemy heavily at long 
ranges with his artillery and the main body of 
his Infantry, he sent the Guides Cavalry and 
i ith Bengal Lancers up the river with orders to 
cross by a little-known ford, and to fall briskly 
on the flank and rear of the enemy. To sup- 
port the cavalry he sent the 15th Sikh Infantry. 
The effect was instantaneous ; the defenders of 
the passage the moment they saw the dreaded 
Lancers, half swimming, half wading, across the 
river, a mile or so up stream, began to lose 
heart ; and what at first was a retirement gradu- 
ally degenerated into a flight, headed by Umra 
Khans brother and the body of horsemen 
escorting him. But the Lancers and Guides 
were not to be denied, and falling on the demor- 
alised foe, left the green crops strewn with their 
dead. The enemy's total loss was about 400 
killed,, of whom about one hundred fell to the 
cavalry. Holding the north bank with two 
battalions, fords were rapidly marked out, and 
the infantry, aided by inflated skins, and the 



skilled watermen of the country impressed for 
the service, struggled across with only two or 
three casualties from drowning. The work was 
an anxious one, for armpit deep in the rushing 
torrent a man washed off his legs was lost for 

During the cavalry pursuit one of the squad- 
rons of the nth Bengal Lancers narrowly 
missed capturing Umra Khan's brother, which 
at the time would have been a great coup. For 
it must be remembered that two British officers, 
Lieutenants Edwardes and Fowler, were all this 
time prisoners in Umra Khans hands, and 
entirely at his mercy. It may be said that the 
halter was round their necks, and every blow 
our forces struck served but to tighten the knot. 
With Umra Khan s brother in our hands the 
situation would have been reciprocated, and we 
could then have afforded to treat on equal terms 
for an exchange. During this same pursuit a 
curious incident occurred. One or two of the 
enemy made a stand close to a tree in the plain ; 
at them charged a trooper, lance well down, as 
hard as he could gallop ; whether he hit his man 
or not history does not relate, but the next 


second he found himself and his horse at the 
bottom of a well, which without side walls stood 
behind the tree. His horse was killed, but he 
himself escaped with a bad shaking. If one 
may hark so far back a similar accident met an 
uncle of the author's, Lieutenant George Young- 
husband, of the 5th Punjab Cavalry, in the 
Mutiny. He was charging with his squadron 
with Greathead's column, on their march to the 
relief of Agra, when he came across a blind 
well, down which he fell, with his mounted 
orderly on top of him. His orderly and the 
two horses were killed, and he alone came out 
alive, but alas ! only to be killed in another 
charge shortly afterwards. 

In the village of Chakdara, which lies near 
the main ford on the north bank, many arms 
were found, and amongst others a straight 
officers sword, cavalry pattern, by Wilkinson, 
of London. As the number was on the sword, 
application was made to Messrs. Wilkinson to 
find out from their books the name of the original 
owner of the sword. It turned out to be an 
officer of the name of Bellew. This proved 

to be Lieutenant Bellew of the 10th Hussars, 
h 2 


who served in Afghanistan in 1878-79, with 
his regiment This sword he had lent to Lieu- 
tenant Harford, who was drowned with a troop 
of the 10th Hussars in the Kabul River. We 
had here evidence of the immense strength of 
the class of stone fort built by Umra Khan. 
The fort is called Ramora, and lay east of Chak- 
dara, being Umra Khan's advanced fort, with 
which he practically dominated the entire Swat 
Valley. This was captured after a short resist- 
ance, and sentenced to be blown up by the 
Sappers. But sentence was one thing, and 
execution another. A heavy charge was placed 
at the foot of one of the towers, the train lighted, 
and the spectators stood afar off, expecting to 
see the whole structure lifted sky high. There 
was a very loud report indeed, but that was all, 
for the tower stood perfectly unmoved. On 
-further examination it was found that the base 
of each tower was perfectly solid masonry from 
the foundation to fifteen feet above ground line, 
whilst the walls above were of immense thickness. 
All the forts built by Umra Khan were of 
the same pattern, that is, four-cornered, with 
one of these strong towers at each corner, and; 


with high walls of great thickness and carefully 
loopholed forming the four sides. Our artillery 
could make no impression on these forts. The 
■sites chosen in the open valleys are very good ; 
but in the narrow valleys they are perforce much 
commanded by the neighbouring precipitous 
hills. .On the Swat River, the enemy's position, 
with the fort of Ramora on one flank, rocky 
hills well prepared for defence on the other, the 
village of Chakdara in the centre, with much 
swampy ground restricting the advance of an 
enemy even after the passage of the river to a 
few well-defined paths, combined to make the 
position if scientifically held a remarkably strong 

Directly the passage of the Swat River had 
been effected the Sappers were set to work to 
construct a trestle and pier bridge, whilst strong 
'reconnaissances were sent forward to keep in 
touch with the enemy. These found the 
Katgola Pass over the Laram Range un- 
occupied, and the cavalry pushing on descended 
on to the Panjkora River, some twenty miles 
ahead. Here was found the most formidable 
obstacle which the force had yet encountered. 


On April 9th, the river was fordable for horses 
and, with difficulty, also for infantry ; on the 
nth, it was barely fordable for horses, and not 
at all for Infantry ; but from that time onwards 
it became a mighty torrent totally unfordable, 
impracticable also for cavalry swimming, though 
the Indian trooper and his horse are like ducks 
in the water. It became necessary therefore 
to build a bridge. 

The only materials immediately at hand were 
the heavy logs of wood, parts of great trees 
which are annually floated down from these 
regions to India, for sale. With these, and 
using telegraph wire to anchor the piers, a 
rough footbridge was with great difficulty and 
danger constructed, and floated into position. 
On the night of April 12th, the Guides were 
pushed across, and strongly entrenched, so as 
to cover the bridge head. The night passed 
quietly, but towards morning a freshet came 
down bearing great logs and washed the bridge 
away, leaving the Guides on the far side. The 
position was undoubtedly an awkward one, for 
cavalry reconnaissances had reported that the 
enemy in some strength, calculated at 9,000 by 


the local people, lay only about seven miles 
westward, and the news of the bridge breaking 
would immediately be reported by their outlooks. 
However it never does in fighting these people 
to hesitate or appear to be in the least discom- 
posed, happen what may. Colonel Battye, who 
was commanding the Guides on this occasion, 
therefore adhered to the orders received over- 
night, when the bridge was intact. These orders 
were to turn the enemy's sharpshooters out of 
the positions from which they had been annoying 
our working parties, and to burn such villages 
near at hand as had been furnishing armed 
parties to fire across the river by night and 
day. The bold offensive thus taken by the 
Guides undoubtedly had a good effect. They 
started early in the morning, and making a wide 
sweep drove out all parties of the enemy con- 
cealed amongst the rocks, and burnt such 
villages as were actively hostile. All this was 
easy work for troops highly skilled in hill war- 
fare, though the climbing was very stiff; but 
the really stern trial came when the hour arrived 
to retire to the bridge head. It requires the 
very best and steadiest of troops to carry out a 


retirement in the face of great odds, and it 
requires still greater nerve to do so in the 
presence of brave and fanatical foes who count 
life as nothing, who with matchless courage 
charge right up to the muzzle of a breech-loader, 
and who give no quarter and ask for none. 

In retiring before such an enemy an almost 
exaggerated deliberation is required, for the 
least appearance of hurry, much more so of con- 
fusion, will open the sluice gates and let in such 
a stormy torrent of warriors, that science must 
perforce give way to weight of numbers. 

The story of the day's fighting may thus be 
briefly told. The Guides had completed their 
mission on which they had been despatched, and 
were now retiring down the spurs of a lofty hill 
which forms the angle where the Jandul River 
flows into the Panjkora River. This hill is to 
the south of the Jandul River, whilst the bridge 
head was to the north of it. Thus, to reach 
their entrenched position the Guides had to 
retire down the mountain they were on and to 
cross the Jandul River. At about noon two 
dense columns of the enemy were seen coming 
down the Jandul Valley, one column keeping 


to the right bank, and the other to the left bank 
of the Jandul River. The first column, breast- 
ing the mountain oat of range of the Guides 
and mostly hidden from them by an intervening 
spur, reached the summit and attacked the 
regiment strongly as it retired. The second 
column sweeping down the valley prepared to 
assail the Guides in flank and rear, hoping to 
completely cut off their retreat. Foot by foot 
- — -to the spectators it seemed almost inch by 
inch — the different companies retired alternately 
down the ridges they occupied, fiercely assailed 
on all hands yet coolly firing volley after volley, 
relinquishing quietly and almost imperceptibly 
one strong position only to take up another a 
few yards back, the splendidly-directed fire of 
the Derajat Mountain Battery doing invaluable 
service. So good indeed was the fire discipline 
of the troops engaged under these trying 
circumstances that not a shot was fired except 
by word of command. Meanwhile two com- 
panies of the regiment, which had been left to 
hold the bridge head, moved out to check the 
advance of the enemy's second column, which, 
making a detour, was moving with determination 


into the flank and rear of the retreating force. 
The whole of the 2nd Brigade, a battery of 
artillery, and a Maxim gun, were now ordered 
out and placed in a strong position on the east 
bank of the Panjkora (the Guides being on the 
west bank), whence in the later stages of the 
retirement their fire could be of material 
assistance. Owing to the very broken nature 
of the mountain sides, and the excellent cover 
afforded to skilled skirmishers, our loss was 
exceedingly small till the foot of the hill was 
reached. Here the regiment had to cross 
several hundred yards of level ground, on which 
the green barley was standing waist high, and 
then cross the Jandul River, here about three 
feet deep, to make its way through more fields 
to the bridge head. Unhappily, just as the 
regiment left the last spur, the commanding 
officer, Lieutenant-Colonel F. D. Battye was 
mortally wounded, dying, as he would perhaps 
most wish to, at the head of his regiment, after 
a quarter of a century of distinguished service 
with it. 

It was in crossing this open ground that the 
extraordinary bravery of the enemy became 


more brilliantly evident. Standard-bearers 
with reckless gallantry could be seen rushing 
to certain destruction, falling perhaps within 
ten yards of the invincible line of the Guides. 
Nay, sometimes men, devoid of all fear, and 
having used up the whole of their ammunition, 
rushed forward with large rocks and hurled 
these at the soldiers, courting instant death. 
They were like hounds on their prey. Nothing 
could damp their ardour or check the fury of 
their assaults. Even after the Guides had 
crossed the Jandul stream, and the enemy were 
under a severe flank fire from the Gordon 
Highlanders and the Kings Own Scottish 
Borderers, they dashed into the stream, where 
each one stood out as clear as a bull's eye on a 
target, and attempted to close again. But not 
a man got across, so steady and well directed 
was the flank fire of the British regiments. 
The fight was now practically over for the day ; 
fire slackened all round, and the entrenched 
position was rapidly occupied, and strengthened 
where necessary. During the day the enemy, 
who numbered 5,000, lost from 500 to 600 
men ; the Guides' total loss was only about 


twenty, a result due to the skilful manner in 
which the retirement was effected, as well as to 
the fine cover afforded by the broken ground 
•on the mountain side. 

It was now evening, and preparations had to 
be made to meet a night attack, for the enemy, 
several thousand strong, were still close round 
hidden behind the low hills. As a reinforce- 
ment a couple of companies of the 4th Sikhs 
and some extra British officers were sent across 
•on rafts, also a Maxim gun ; whilst the near 
bank, which commanded the bridge head 
entrenchment at 800 yards' range, was occupied 
by a mountain battery, and the troops of the 
2nd Brigade. The position of the enemy being 
such as it was, the night was one of some 
anxiety, for a determined rush might be ex- 
pected at any moment. Such an attack was 
planned and on the eve of being executed, 
when the unexpected, and as it seemed to the 
enemy, magical, appearance of a star shell com- 
pletely dumfounded the hitherto dauntless foe, 
and the attack was not delivered. From the 
information of spies it appeared afterwards that 
2,000 chosen warriors, sword in hand, lay con- 


cealed in the standing corn just outside the 
picquets, merely awaiting the signal for assault, 
when this happy contrivance of civilisation 
staved off a fight, which could only have been 
attended with enormous loss on both sides. 
Before the enemy finally drew off, however, the 
force sustained a serious loss in the death of 
Captain Peebles* in charge of the Maxim gun. 
This officers services had proved invaluable 
from his intimate knowledge of the working of 
the Maxim, a gun which in inexpert hands is 
apt, like other pieces of mechanism, to get out 
of order. The working of Captain Peebles's 
gun had been the admiration of the whole force 
throughout the campaign. 

It had become sufficiently apparent now that 
no floating bridge could hope to stand the 
current in the Panjkora River, and it was 
therefore decided to throw across a suspension 
bridge at a point somewhat lower down. 
Curiously enough at this point, where the 
rocky hills shut in the river till it is like a mill 
race only 100 feet or so across, were found 
bridging materials collected by Umra Khan, 
who had evidently ordered a cantilever bridge 


to be built here. The work was entrusted to 
Major Aylmer, V.C., R.E., who had had much 
experience in this branch of his art up in the 
Gilgit direction. The available materials were 
telegraph wire and beams from dismantled 
houses. With these, within forty-eight hours, 
Major Aylmer constructed a suspension bridge 
of 100 feet span, capable of bearing even 
loaded camels, cavalry, and mountain artillery. 

During the construction a very prompt and 
plucky act on Major Aylmers part saved the 
life of a soldier. About a mile up stream, 
where the first floating bridge had been con- 
structed, a flying bridge and rafts were still 
working backwards and forwards, to supply the 
Guides with their wants on the other bank. 
One of these rafts, on which were two men of 
the Devonshire Regiment Maxim Gun De- 
tachment, got accidentally overturned, and the 
boatmen and oars were washed away. The 
two soldiers managed to climb on to the raft 
and were carried down stream at a great pace. 
General Gatacre, seeing the accident, immedi- 
ately galloped down to the site of the new 
bridge to give warning, in the hopes of saving 

Constructing Suspension Bridge over Panjkora River. 


the men. Meanwhile one man had made an 
attempt to jump on shore, and had been swept 
away and drowned, and the survivor on the 
raft came flying down the torrent. With the 
greatest presence of mind and pluck Major 
Aylmer immediately slipped down a slack wire 
'that was across the river, and just managed to 
grab the soldier as he shot past. The raft was 
immediately after dashed to pieces on the rocks 
below. With considerable difficulty the soldier 
and his preserver were hauled on shore, and 
it was then found that the Major was badly 
bruised and cut by the wire. The Royal 
Humane Society's medal has been given for 
many a less distinguished act of bravery, yet I 
do not think that in the stir of passing events 
it actually occurred to any of the spectators to 
send the recommendation home. 

Certain news came in about now that Lieu- 
tenants Edwardes and Fowler, the two officers 
who had fallen into Umra Khans hands, were 
at Barwa, a small fort only about eighteen miles 
distant, on the other side of the Panjkora. 
This rather complicated matters, for according 
to all precedent and our former experiences of 


Pathan warfare these officers' lives were not 
worth an hours purchase in any case, and their 
murder in cold blood might be calculated on as 
a moral certainty if we were to attack. The 
following note was received from the officers, 
written from Barwa : — " Fowler R.E. and 
Edwardes 2nd Bombay Grenadiers are shut 
in Barwa can you get us out. Give bearers 
Rs. 100. 7.4.94 (sic) P.S. Shall we try and 
bolt people here panic." A hasty scrawl written 
on the leaf of a note-book. 

The title " Political " officers is one of ill 
omen in the Indian Army, but in Major Deane 
the force had a guide, philosopher, and friend 
whose services throughout were simply invalu- 
able. Added to an intimate knowledge of the 
country, its people, and language, he added a 
shrewd knowledge of how to deal with them. 
To Major Dearie's diplomatic skill Lieutenants 
Fowler and Edwardes in all human probability 
owe their lives, and their release freed the 
General's arm to strike, unhampered by the 
thought that his action might sound the death- 
knell of the two young officers. In meeting 
Major Deane half way in these diplomatic over- 


tures Umra Khan displayed an enlightened and 
civilised advancement which is far ahead of his 
surroundings. Without demanding any quid 
pro quo, he, when they were asked for, returned 
the prisoners in all honour, having treated them 
thoroughly well throughout. 

Whilst the Sappers are busy building their 
bridge over the Panjkora this would be a not 
altogether unfavourable moment to epitomise 
the campaign in so far as it had conduced to the 
relief of the beleaguered garrison up to this date. 
Every effort had failed to get news from the 
besieged, nor had it been found possible by any 
device — for many were tried — to throw news of 
the coming succour into the fort. But so far 
great results had been gained ; the commander- 
in-chief, the soul and body of the siege, Umra 
Khan himself, with one thousand of his picked 
men, mostly armed with breech-loaders, had 
been compelled to abandon the siege, and to 
hasten back southwards and to organise resist- 
ance to and raise the tribes against our advance. 
On this same date, April 13th, Colonel Kelly 
and his handful of men were at Mastuj, having 

accomplished their celebrated passage of the 


Shandur Pass. His advance so far had been 
but slightly opposed. From reliable information 
it was supposed that the garrison of Chitral had 
supplies to last them only up to April 22nd. A 
week therefore only remained, and before the 
Southern force lay Umra Khan with 9,000 men 
and two mighty ranges of mountains, whilst the 
Northern force, under Colonel Kelly, though 
within sixty miles of Chitral, had before it a 
narrow and difficult route, at any point in which 
the enemy might be found strongly posted. 



Truly on this thirteenth of April the outlook 
was not a bright one ; but here came in one of 
those flashes of genius which go to win cam- 
paigns and undoubtedly helped to win this one. 
It occurred to those responsible for the conduct 
of the campaign that though it was impossible 
to convey a large force to Chitral in the given 
time, yet it was quite feasible to push through 
a small number of men who, falling on the rear 
of Sher Afzul, the general left by Umra Khan 
in charge of the siege, might form a welcome 
diversion. At first it was contemplated sending 
a mixed force of regulars and levies, but after 
careful deliberation it was decided that regulars 
would impede the rate of march, and that the 
effect being chiefly a moral one could be almost 

as surely gained by levies alone. The plan 
12 115 


therefore was for the main force to cross the 
Panjkora, and to fight a decisive battle with 
Umra Khan, whilst our ally the Khan of Dir, 
covered by this movement, was despatched up 
the left bank of the Panjkora River, with orders 
to cross the Lowarai Pass, 10,450 feet high, to 
descend into the Chitral Valley, and to give out 
far and wide that he was merely the advanced 
guard of the force, which had conquered Swat 
and Bajour, and had heavily defeated the hither- 
to invincible general Umra Khan. 

In pursuance of this plan the Khan of Dir 
was ordered to move forward with 1,000 men 
and to cross the Lowarai Pass, and immediately 
the bridge over the Panjkora River was com- 
pleted, General Blood moved rapidly forward 
in charge of a cavalry reconnaissance towards 
Umra Khans stronghold at Munda. Advanc- 
ing with a squadron of the Guides Cavalry, 
General Blood moved up the Jandul River till 
the large and important village of Miankila was 
in sight. Here a peasant was met who entered 
freely into conversation. The General asked 
him where Umra Khan was. He said, " Over 
there in that fort," pointing to Munda, just over 

Dir Fort. 


the brow of a rise in the ground. " Will you 
take him a note and bring an answer ? " asked 
the General. " Certainly/' said the peasant, " I 
will be back in half an hour." So calling to his 
assistance the linguistic proficiency of Captain 
Nixon, of the Intelligence Department, a polite 
and cordial note was written to Umra Khan, 
asking him to come out into the open and have 
a talk with the General, in all good fellowship, 
and " without prejudice/' The answer came 
back before long, and was to the following effect : 
* 4 After greetings, I should greatly like to meet 
your excellency, and to have a quiet talk with 
you, whereby the whole affair might be easily 
settled. But unfortunately I am surrounded by 
about 3,000 Ghazis, and these bad men will not 
hear of my going out to see. You too I notice 
are accompanied by warriors. Assuredly no 
quiet conversation can take place under these 
circumstances. Now I propose that you send 
away your army and I will send away mine, 
and then you and I can have our conference 
alone in the field." This was all very nice and 
friendly ; but meanwhile dense columns of the 
enemy began to issue from Miankila and Munda, 


and moving with astonishing rapidity, occupied 
both banks of the river, which is here easily 
fordable everywhere, and began to press on 
the cavalry. The reconnoitring party moved 
back quietly, till the head of the infantry column 
became visible, hastening up. This was the 3rd 
Infantry Brigade under General Gatacre, accom- 
panied by the nth Bengal Lancers and the 
Derajat Mountain Battery. 

The battery opened fire at once, and the 
cavalry moved up the river bed, here very 
broad and open, whilst the infantry advanced to 
the attack up the right bank of the stream. 
But from the first moment, though Umra Khan 
was present in person, it was quite evident that 
the enemy did not mean " business." The 
severe lessons of former battles had begun to tell 
upon them, and their resistance was only half- 
hearted. The 3rd Brigade pushed home their 
advantage, and the enemy retired before them, 
losing only a few men, till towards evening their 
whole force was to be seen in full retreat up 
the distant valley into Nawagai. The troops 
bivouacked in the forward position they had 
gained, and the 2nd Brigade was ordered up in 


the expectation that the enemy would make a 
determined stand on the morrow. But the 
morrow showed nothing but deserted positions 
and deserted forts, and thus easily had been 
fought and won the final engagement which 
decided the campaign, and sent Umra Khan, 
the victor in a hundred fights, ruined and broken 
to exile, and premature death in Kabul. 

When we say ruined, however, let us under- 
stand the word in a moral sense. Pecuniarily 
Umra Khan is anything but ruined, for one of 
our spies counted eleven mule loads of treasure 
leaving Munda fort one night under a strong 
escort. Each mule would carry Rs. 6,000 in 
silver, or Rs. 120,000 in gold, or any sum one 
likes to mention in jewels. Taking a rough 
average between silver and gold, and leaving 
jewels out of consideration, we shall be able to 
calculate that eleven mule loads of treasure 
would keep Umra Khan and his family very 
comfortably for the rest of their days. 

Some weeks after, when escorting Sher Afzul 
to India, I heard many stories of Umra Khan. 
Like a wise man, knowing the uncertain tenor 
of an Eastern monarch's reign, he had taken 


care to feather his nest whilst his power lasted. 
He exacted a tithe of their profits from all, 
merchants or agriculturists, and the money thus 
accumulated, he changed into gold at a rate of 
exchange fixed by himself. Thus if the real 
value of a Russian gold coin was Rs.20, by royal 
edict, and for the benefit of the royal purchaser, 
it became Rs. 18. Gold is very scarce in Asia, 
but a certain number of Russian coins filter 
across, and gold ornaments are to be found here 
and there. All these Umra Khan assiduously 
collected, so that at the time of his flight he 
probably had a goodly treasure. 

Oneevening before the British advance began, 
after attending evening prayers on the praying 
platform in the clump of chenars below Munda 
fort, Umra Khan, turning to his followers, said : 
" I have just received a letter from Gholam 
Hyder, the Commander-in-Chief of the Afghan 
army. His proposal is that I shall invade the 
Peshawur Valley by way of the Malakand with 
30,000 men, and that he will co-operate through 
the Khyber Pass with 10,000 men. What say 
you, my brave warriors ? " Whereupon the 
whole assembly arose with a mighty shout, " To 



Peshawur ! " travestying a somewhat more 
celebrated cry which was heard in Europe in 
1870. Whether such a letter had been received 
or not, and whether, if it had been, it was any- 
thing more than one of those neighbourly acts 
by which, in the East, one friend lures another 
to certain destruction, it is not necessary here to 
discuss. The anecdote is merely told as show- 
ing the immense confidence Umra Khan had in 
his own powers, and the faith his followers had 
in his skill. Years of conquest, and years of 
unchequered success, had led the petty border 
chieftain into half thinking that he could with- 
stand the power of a mighty empire. It was a 
thousand pities that this chief took up the atti- 
tude he did. If he had chosen to be the friend 
of the British, he might now be despotic ruler of 
all the country which lies between Chitral and 
Peshawur Valley, with the firm alliance of the 
British Government at his back. 

When the cavalry, riding on rapidly, captured 
the abandoned fort of Munda, every trace of a 
rapid flight was apparent. Books and grain 
were strewn about, dismounted cannon lay at 
the gate, everything was topsy-turvey and 


turned inside out, and the sole occupant was 
a poor, deformed idiot. Amongst the papers 
found lying about were some of considerable 
interest. One was from a certain mullah 1 who, 
before the battle, wrote from the summit of the 
Malakand Pass. He said : " We see the in- 
fidels, the sons of pigs, encamped down in the 
plains below us. There are very few of them, 
and we shall easily send them all to Hell. On 
our side we have twelve or fifteen thousand 
Ghazis, and the place is well fortified with san- 
gars. To-morrow or next day I shall have the 
honour of informing your Excellency that the 
infidels have been extirpated" ; and so on. It 
is highly probable that the worthy mullah spent 
the next few days in breaking the record towards 
Upper Swat, or else, perchance, his bones now 
lie on the Malakand. 

Another literary curiosity found in Munda 
fort was a letter from a Scotch firm in Bombay 
offering to provide Umra Khan with every 
luxury in the way of arms and ammunition, from 
Maxim guns at Rs.3,700 each, down to revolvers 

1 A priest, often of the sporting-parson type of Joshua 
of old. 


at Rs.34 a piece. Luckily the benevolent in- 
tentions of this patriotic firm had been frustrated 
by the astute intervention of Major Deane, at 
that time Deputy Commissioner of Peshawur. 
The firm in question has found it expedient to 
transfer itself, and the benefits to humanity 
which it provides, to Cairo. Many other letters 
too lay about showing how wide was the influence 
of the departed chief; offers of help, spontaneous 
and otherwise, showed that the total resources 
at his command were not much under 30,000 
men, all armed in some fashion or another, with 
a good sprinkling of breech-loading rifles, lately 
the property of Her Majesty the Queen of 

It was on the 17th day of April that Umra 
Khan made his last stand and disappeared 
permanently from the theatre of operations. 
On the very same day the garrison of Chitral 
made the splendid sortie led by Lieutenant 
Harley of the 14th Sikhs, a full account of 
which will appear in a future chapter, and on 
the night of the 18th of April the siege was 
raised, and Sher Afzul and his whole force fled 
to the hills. Here the general with 1,500 of 


his men, were cleverly captured and brought in 
prisoners to Dir. 

The history of our recent wars does not 
furnish an example of a more signal and sweep- 
ing success. In the space of exactly one month 
from the day on which the mobilisation of the 
Relief Force was ordered, the main object of 
the campaign was obtained, the whole of the 
enemy's numerous and ubiquitous forces were 
defeated and dispersed, and every one of the 
important chiefs was a prisoner in our hands, or 
in those of our ally the Amir. Setting aside 
the superiority in armament and organisation 
which were undoubtedly on our side — though 
in passing it may be noted that the Soudan and 
the Cape furnish instances where both availed 
not against determined savages — it may be well 
to examine the chief causes which led to this 
signal success. The result may be described 
briefly as due to three main causes : To the rapid 
and successful mobilisation of the Relief Force ; 
to the crushing defeat of the enemy in Swat, on 
the Panjkora, and in the Jandul Valley ; and to 
the hardy and determined advance of Colonel 
Kelly's small column from the north. Nor 

Head-quarter Camp, 


must we forget the stout resistance of the 
garrison placed perforce in an almost untenable 
position against overwhelming odds, which 
thoroughly damped the ardour of the besiegers 
and paved the way for the effective result 
obtained by the approach of the relief columns. 
It was in fact the game of war played on sound 
principles, and with a fine all-round combination 
which commanded success. 

How nice this calculation had to be will be 
appreciated by the military student, when he 
considers how far divergent were the bases from 
which the two columns had to start, and what 
immense physical difficulties had to be overcome 
by each. It does not require much imagination 
to show that Umra Khan, acting, as he was, on 
interior lines as against exterior lines, might, if 
less skilfully assailed, have first thrown his 
whole force on Colonel Kelly's weak column, 
entangled in almost impossible defiles ; next, 
with troops elated with victory, have swamped 
the small garrison of Chitral, already hard 
pressed and short of food, and then, with a 
dozen tribes at his back, stirred up to the 
highest pitch of Mohammedan fanaticism, have 


turned and assailed the main column under Sir 
Robert Low. The final result of the campaign 
must undoubtedly have gone against Umra 
Khan, but he would have had some signal 
successes to show in return. It happened to 
be one of the writer's duties to escort Sher 
Afzul to India as a prisoner of war, and from 
conversation held with him it appeared that 
such in fact had been, in the main, the plan of 
campaign which Umra Khan had contemplated, 
and he was frustrated only by the superior 
combination and strategic skill which directed 
the march of the relieving columns. 

All need for any hurry was now over. 
Colonel Kelly reached Chitral unopposed on 
April 20th, and was the first to shake hands 
with the brave defenders. Sir Robert Low's 
leading brigade, under General Gatacre, set to 
work to construct a mule road over the Lowaria 
Pass, still deep in snow, and a few troops were 
marched up the Chitral Valley just to show 
themselves without straining unnecessarily the 
difficult task of feeding large bodies of troops so 
far from their base. The campaign ended with 
one of those gracious messages with which Her 


Majesty Queen Victoria never failed to acknow- 
ledge the gallantry of her Army ; whilst in the 
hearty and soldierly message of the Commander- 
in-Chief, Sir George White, every man of the 
Force felt that his services had been appreciated 
by one who knew well the difficulties that had 
been overcome, and the stern hardships that had 
been cheerfully borne. 

The British soldier, and his friend and com- 
rade of the Indian army, are accustomed to 
serve in every degree of climate, and in every 
nature of country, for an empire of the vast 
dimensions of the British Empire must needs 
embrace every variety of climate and country. 
In the brief and brilliant campaign just con- 
cluded perhaps these various conditions were as 
numerously represented as is possible. There 
was fierce heat and piercing cold, deluges of 
rain and blinding storms of snow and hail ; the 
Highest mountain system in the world to be 
climbed, rivers, deep and wide and astonishing 
in their treacherous strength, to be crossed. 
With his greatcoat and a blanket for his bag- 
gage, the sturdy British soldier and his strapping 
Indian war comrade, face these many hardships 


with the cheerful alacrity of men ready and 
accustomed to overcome unusual difficulties, and 
to face tremendous odds by land and sea. 

It is seldom, too, that a British campaign 
does not produce its men of mark and those 
who have done heroic deeds, nor is this one an 
exception to the rule, for the names of Sir 
Robert Low, General Bindon Blood, and 
General Waterfield stand high in the historic 
roll of successful generals, whilst Colonel 
Kelly's brilliant feat of arms has made him 
famous for ever. But perhaps the deed of all 
others which appeals most to the soldier's heart 
was the desperate and successful sortie from 
Chitral, made by the brave and gallant Harley 
and his Sikhs on the 17th day of April, 1895. 

Sir R. Low and Staff on the Janbatai Pass. 



Chitral was now relieved ; communication 
with the British officers so long shut up there 
was once more established, and letters were at 
last received giving an accouut of the desperate 
defence and of all that had occurred since the 
Chitralis had risen in revolt. 

I take up the narrative from the point at 
which I left it at the close of the first chapter. 
The Chitralis had then suddenly given up their 
opposition to Umra Khan and, joining Sher 
Afzul, who had now allied himself with Umra 
Khan, had advanced against the British officers 
established in Chitral fort. 

On the 3rd of March, at about 4.30 p.m., 
news was received by the British officers in 
Chitral fort that Sher Afzul, with a large force, 
was approaching. Captain Colin Campbell, of 


the Central India Horse, and, for the time, 
Inspecting Officer of the Kashmir Imperial 
Service Troops, was in command of the troops 
now in Chitral ; and, late in the afternoon 
though it was, he thought it necessary to go out 
with a strong reconnoitring force to ascertain 
the strength and intentions of the Chitrali force. 
Hostilities between the British and the Chitralis 
had not yet commenced, and with a large armed 
force advancing towards the fort it was necessary 
for the British garrison to take every precaution 
against being caught unawares. Two hundred 
Kashmir Infantry under Captains Campbell, 
Townshend, and Baird, and accompanied by 
the British Agent, Surgeon-Major Robertson, 
Lieutenant Gurdon, and Surgeon- Captain 
Whitchurch, therefore set out from the fort to 
reconnoitre the Chitrali dispositions. There is 
no regular town of Chitral, but round the fort, 
which is merely the residence of the Mehtars, 
there are scattered over the valley a number of 
little hamlets, and detached houses, dotted among 
the cultivated lands which stretch for a distance 
of about three miles down the valley. These 
cultivated lands are on some gently sloping 




ground, from a mile to a mile and a half in 
width, which runs down from the high, steep 
hill-sides on the right bank to the river. 

Leaving fifty men in the serai a quarter of a 
mile from the fort, and detaching a section under 
Captain Baird, which Lieutenant Gurdon 
accompanied, to ascend the hill-sides on the 
right, Captains Campbell and Townshend 
advanced for a mile and a half down the valley, 
towards a house in which it was stated that 
Sher Afzul had established himself. On arrival 
at the house it was found that Sher Afzul was 
not in it, and Captain Townshend then advanced 
still further down the valley, while Captain 
Baird's flanking party was strengthened by an 
additional twenty-five men. Captain Townshend 
could see a number of men moving about among 
the trees and houses of a hamlet 500 yards be- 
yond the house which it had been supposed Sher 
Afzul was occupying ; and on the hill-sides 
which Baird's party were ascending there were 
some hundreds of the Chitralis. On these hill- 
slopes firing now commenced, and Captain 
Townshend concluding that the men he could 

see in the front moving about in the hamlet 
k 2 


were the enemy, opened fire with a section 
volley. The fire was immediately returned by 
the enemy, who, being armed with Martini- 
Henry and Snider rifles, made, says Captain 
Townshend, most excellent shooting. Among 
the enemy were several hundred of Umra 
Khans men, drilled and trained by pensioners 
from our own Indian Army ; and there were, 
indeed, many of these pensioners themselves 
in the force which was now advancing upon 

Captain Townshend kept his men under cover 
as much as possible, and, taking advantage, for 
the purpose, of the boulders and low walls which 
surrounded the fields, advanced to within 200 
yards or so of the hamlet. There was now no 
more cover in his front, many of his men were 
hit, and he could see the hamlet towards which 
he was advancing now crowded with men who 
were keeping up a well-sustained fire from the 
walls and loopholes. To advance with the 
hundred men he had with him, and these not 
veteran troops of our own army, but untried 
Kashmir troops armed with worn-out Snider 
rifles, against superior numbers of a better- 


armed and more experienced force posted behind 
walls was an impossibility, and Captain Towns- 
hend decided therefore to hold his ground until 
Captain Baird should move along the hill-slopes 
to the westward, and so turn the hamlet, and 
when Baird had done this Townshend would 
then advance to attack it in front. 

But time went on, and Townshend could see 
no signs of Baird advancing on his flank. On 
the other hand small parties of the enemy began 
to overlap him on both flanks and to enfilade 
him with their fire. His position was now 
becoming untenable ; it was half-past six and 
would soon be dark, so decisive action of some 
sort — either an advance or a retirement — had to 
be carried out at once. At this juncture Captain 
Campbell arrived and directed that the hamlet 
should be stormed. The order to reinforce was 
given but the support of men in rear did not 
come up, though the order was continually 
repeated Captain Campbell then went back 
to himself bring up the support, while Captain 
Townshend fixed bayonets preparatory to a 
charge and kept up a heavy independent fire. 
The support all this time was lying behind 


some low walls 1 50 yards to the rear, Captain 
Campbell succeeded in bringing on about a 
dozen men from among them, and then fell shot 
through the knee just as he was rejoining the 
advance party. Colonel Jagat Singh, of the 
Kashmir troops, then went back to try and get 
more men on, but he could only bring on one 
or two. So Captain Townshend, finding that 
to await for further support was useless, went 
round his men telling them they must rush 
straight in and take the houses, and he then 
sounded the charge. 

The little party of a hundred men scrambled 
over the bank behind which they had been lying 
and advanced to the attack of the strongly-held 
village to their front. It was a desperate 
venture, for the enemy were not only in superior 
numbers and better armed, but they were firing 
from behind cover, while the troops which the 
British had now to lead to the attack had to 
advance across 200 yards of open ground, 
exposed to fire for the whole distance, and 
they were men who had never been in action 
before. Captain Townshend had served in the 
expedition sent to relieve Khartoum, and had 


been present in the battles of Gubat and Abu 
Klea, where Sir Herbert Stewart and Burnaby 
lost their lives, and he had taken part in the 
sharp little Hunza campaign in 1891, but he 
told me that he had never before been under so 
hot a fire as that which now met his party as 
they scrambled over the bank. The Kashmir 
General Baj Singh, a fine old soldier and 
gentleman, who was always keen to be in the 
thickest of a fight, and whose keenness had now 
led him to the front when by rights he should 
have been more in rear, was shot down on one 
side of Captain Townshend, while Major 
Bhikam Singh, another brave old Kashmir 
officer, was mortally wounded on the other side. 
Their leaders fallen, the finest troops in the 
world would have found it hard to face so ter- 
rible a fire, and the raw Kashmir infantry could 
no longer stand before it. Insensibly they 
shrank under the fire, then crouched down 
behind stones, till Captain Townshend finding 
it impossible to carry the charge home in spite 
of all his endeavours to get the men on .aban- 
doned the attempt, and ordered his men back 
behind the wall from which they had started, 


Events had now taken a very serious turn. 
The British officers were nearly two miles 
distant from the fort with a handful of dis- 
heartened troops in the face of vastly superior 
numbers of an elated enemy, who were now 
commencing to overlap them on all sides. The 
retirement to the fort commenced, and Captain 
Campbell, even though he was very severely 
wounded in the knee, mounted a pony and 
helped to keep the troops in order and steady, 
This trying manoeuvre was effected by alternate 
parties, the men dribbling off to the rear by 
word of command while the remainder kept up 
a heavy fire to keep off the enemy. Captain 
Townshend always remained with the last party 
in order to prevent any panic or disorder arising, 
and in this way the party reached a house about 
a mile from the fort, where Mr. Robertson was 
found rallying men who had retired before, and 
here a short stand was made, while Mr, 
Robertson, at great risk and exposed to a 
heavy fire from the enemy now lining the 
garden walls and houses on every side, rode 
back to the fort to bring out fifty of Lieutenant 
Harley's Sikhs to cover the retirement, 


It was now quite dark, and the enemy were 
firing into Captain Townshend's troops from 
front, flank, and rear, from every hamlet and 
wall. The Chitralis and Pathans were wild 
with excitement at the unexpected success of 
their first encounter with the British, and, 
carried away in the whirl of enthusiasm, even 
women hurled down stones upon the retiring 
troops. Groping their way, and unable at a 
short distance to distinguish friend from foe, 
Captain Townshend brought his men along 
between walls flashing out fire in the darkness 
till he reached the serai near the fort, where 
he found fifty Sikhs under Lieutenant Harley 
come out to cover his retreat. Steady as on 
parade, and calm and unmoved amidst all the 
excitement around them, Harley and his 
veterans headed back the storm while the 
Kashmir troops retired to the fort. Then he 
and his men slowly retired within the walls also 
while the enemy closed thickly around, and the 
investment commenced which was to last forty- 
seven long days and weary nights. 

But when the officers arrived within the walls 
it was found that two of their number were 


missing. Neither Dr. Whitchurch nor Captain 
Baird had yet arrived. It was known that 
Baird had been desperately wounded, and deep 
anxiety regarding the fate of him and Whit- 
church was felt, when, at about eight o'clock, 
Whitchurch was seen from the walls staggering 
along towards the gateway, supporting and half 
carrying Baird along. At the beginning of the 
action Baird, with about fifty men, had been 
sent away on the right to work round the 
enemy's flank. With his handful of men, and 
with Lieutenant Gurdon by his side, he ascended 
the steep rocky mountain slopes which overlook 
the valley. It is a generally accepted principle 
of warfare that an attacking party should be 
divided into an advance party and a support, 
and this principle was now acted upon ; but 
Captain Baird, with his characteristic zeal, would 
not remain with the support, and determined 
on leading the advance himself. And Lieutenant 
Gurdon, who, being Political Officer was not 
present in the reconnaissance in a strictly 
military capacity, was as anxious as Baird to be 
in front. So the two British officers agreed to 
go on together with the advance. 


But the enemy were now in hundreds on the 
mountain side firing and hurling down stones 
upon the little straggling party, who painfully 
worked their way upward. Captain Baird was 
mortally wounded in the stomach, many other 
of his men were also hit, and the party had to 
be drawn off. Lieutenant Gurdon could not 
remain long to look after his wounded comrade, 
for he had to collect the men and conduct their 
retirement upon the main body. 

News was given to Dr. Whitchurch of the 
misfortune to poor Baird, and a small escort 
was left to help him home, as no general retire- 
ment had yet taken place. All that he could 
do Dr. Whitchurch did for Baird ; but now, 
as darkness was closing in, it was seen that 
our troops were retiring, that the enemy were 
swarming round on all sides, and that even the 
retreat to the fort was threatened. Whitchurch 
collected together about a dozen sepoys, and 
then set off to carry the wounded officer back to 
the fort. The enemy had penetrated in between 
him and the main body, and were firing from 
the houses and garden walls on the way to the 
fort. The direct road back was therefore quite 


blocked to him, and Dr. Whitchurch had to 
take a circuitous route of three miles round. 
They were exposed to fire for almost the entire 
way, and had it not been for the darkness 
nothing could have saved them. On more 
than one occasion Whitchurch had to lay down 
his burden, and, at the head of the men he 
had collected, charge the enemy to drive them 
from a wall and make a way. Then he would 
go back, pick Baird up again, and carry him 
through. Several of the party were killed — 
how many cannot be correctly ascertained, for 
in the darkness and confusion it was impossible 
to ascertain the exact number of his party — 
and just as they reached the fort, and when in 
a few minutes more they would have been in 
safety, Captain Baird was hit for the third time, 
and wounded in the face. Dr. Whitchurch and 
the brave Kashmir troops who had remained 
with him had by their devotion and gallantry 
brought back their wounded comrade to the 
other British officers, only to die, indeed, on the 
following morning, but to die with his brother 
officers by his side, and where he could be 
buried by them with the last solemn rites. 


" It is difficult to write temperately about 
Whitchurch, " wrote Mr. Robertson in reporting 
this action to Government, and men who have 
themselves gained the Victoria Cross have said 
that never has it been more gallantly earned 
than on this occasion by Surgeon-Captain 

The total losses in this day's engagement 
were twenty-three men killed and thirty-three 
wounded out of 200, of whom only 1 50 were 
actually engaged ; and it was with this newly- 
raised Kashmir regiment depressed by these 
severe losses, and with their own hearts saddened 
by the death on the following morning of their 
brave comrade, that the British officers com- 
menced the defence of the Chitral fort against 
an enemy correspondingly elated at their 

The Chitral fort is eighty yards square, with 
walls twenty-five feet high and about eight feet 
thick. At each corner there is a tower some 
twenty feet higher than the wall, and outside 
the north face on the edge of the river is a fifth 
tower to guard the waterway. On the east 
face a garden runs out for a distance of 140 


yards, and forty yards of the south-east tower 
is a summer-house. On the north and west 
faces were stables and other outhouses. 

The fort is built of rude masonry kept 
together, not by cement or mortar of any 
description, but by cradle-work of beams of 
wood placed longitudinally and transversely so 
as to keep the masonry together. Without this 
framework of wood the walls would fall to 

It is situated on the right bank of the Chitral 
River, some forty or fifty yards from the water's 
edge, and it is commanded from nearly all sides 
for Martini- Henry or Snider rifle fire, for 
mountains close by the river rise above the 
valley bottom. The fort is thus situated for 
the purpose of maintaining water, and at the 
time of its construction breech-loading rifles 
were not in possession of the people of the 
country, so that the fort could not then be fired 

The strength of the garrison of the be- 
leaguered fort was 99 men of the 14th Sikhs, 
301 men of the Kashmir Infantry, with the 
following British officers : Surgeon-Major 

Chitral Fort, from the South. 


Robertson, British Agent ; Captain C. V. F. 
Townshend, Central India Horse, commanding 
British Agent's Escort, and Commandant of 
the fort ; Lieutenant Gurdon, Assistant to the 
British Agent; Lieutenant H. K. Harley, 14th 
Sikhs ; Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch, 24th 
Punjab Infantry ; Captain Campbell, Central 
India Horse (badly wounded). 

There were 11 followers and 27 servants, 16 
Punyali levies, 1 2 native clerks and messengers, 
7 commissariat and transport followers, and 52 
Chitralis, bringing up the total number within 
the fort to 543 persons. For these there were 
supplies which, putting every one in the fort 
on half rations, would last about two and a half 
months. There were 300 rounds of ammuni- 
tion per man for the Martini- Henry rifles of 
the Sikhs, and 280 rounds per man for the 
Snider rifles of the Kashmir Infantry. 

On the 4th of March the enemy commenced 
offensive action against the British in earnest 
by firing the whole day long into the fort. On 
this day, Captain Townshend, who, now that 
Captain Campbell was wounded and unable to 
leave his bed, commanded the fort, commenced 


taking measures for its proper defence. It was 
a most unfortunate circumstance that affairs 
had come to a head so quickly, that he was 
unable to carry out any demolitions of the out- 
houses, etc., which surrounded the fort. His 
first care, however, was to do what he could 
towards carrying out this necessary operation : 
even though much of the work had to be done 
under fire, it was necessary to knock down all 
the garden walls and houses he could, so as to 
prevent the enemy occupying them and effect- 
ing a lodgment, as they thus would be close up 
to the very walls of the fort. As it was, the 
besiegers succeeded in occupying the summer- 
house at the south-east angle of the fort, which 
was only forty yards distant from the corner 
tower. The fort is surrounded by numbers of 
trees of great height, which not only afforded 
cover to the enemy, but up which it might 
have been possible for them to climb, and from 
their higher branches fire into the very interior 
of the fort, and this formed an additional 

Captain Townshend had also to take efficient 
measures for protecting the way down to the 

Photo Van der Weyde, Regent Street. 

Major C. V. F. Townshend, C.B. 


river, for as there was no serviceable well 
inside the fort it was necessary to obtain every 
drop of water required by the garrison from 
the river. This flowed along the north face of 
the fort and a tower covered the way down to 
it, but in this wintry season it was low and 
there was still a space of some thirty yards 
between the door of this tower and the rivers 
edge. It was necessary, therefore, to construct 
a covered way from the gate of the tower to the 

To neutralise the effect of the fire from the 
hill-sides which, during the whole of the day, 
came pouring down into the fort, Captain 
Townshend had to devise some arrange- 
ment. Planks, and beams of wood, doors, 
mule-saddles, boxes, and sacks filled with earth, 
were piled up as parados to protect the men's 
backs as they fired from the parapets. There 
was not, however, sufficient material of a solid 
description to protect the whole of the interior 
from the enemy's fire, and where perfect pro- 
tection could not be made, cover from sight 
was arranged for, that is to say, cut-up tents, 
carpets, and curtains were hung across passages 


and doorways so that the enemy might not be 
able to see men passing along. If they fired 
upon these tents and carpets the bullets would 
of course go through them, but they would be 
unable to know when anybody was passing 
along behind them, and it would therefore be 
scarcely worth their while to keep firing upon 
these screens on the mere chance of hitting a 
passer-by. For the parapets, where the be- 
siegers would know that men for certain would 
be stationed, Captain Townshend arranged 
sufficient protection of beams of wood, etc. ; 
for the remainder, screens to serve as protection 
from sight were provided. These first measures 
occupied the attention of the British officers for 
the few days following the commencement of 
the siege. 

On the night of the 7th of March the enemy 
made a determined attack on the water-way. 
The besiegers were well versed in every art of 
the attack on such forts as Chitral, for among 
the numbers were several hundreds of Umra 
Khan's Jandulis, whose entire lives are occupied 
in besieging and defending similar forts to that 
of Chitral. They well knew therefore the 


importance of cutting off the garrison from 
its water supply, and this is always the first 
measure which they attempt. Under cover of 
darkness they commenced a heavy and well- 
sustained fire from the trees on the north-west 
front of the fort, and sent a party of men to 
effect an entrance to the water-tower. This 
they actually succeeded in doing, and a small 
number of them carrying faggots of wood placed 
these in the interior of the tower, and set fire 
to them with the object of burning down the 
entire structure. The garrison, however, were 
well on the alert, for the men always slept on 
their alarm posts, and every one was quickly 
in his place. A well-controlled fire was then 
commenced on the attacking party. Captain 
Townshend had given instructions that no 
independent firing was to be allowed at night, 
and only section volleys were employed. The 
enemy's attack was driven off, and water^ 
carriers having been sent out to the water- 
tower, the fire there was quickly put out. 

At the end of the first week of the siege, 
owing to the admirable arrangements for the 
protection of the men, there had been only five 



casualties, but there were now only eighty rifles 
of the 14th Sikhs and 200 rifles of the Kashmir 
Infantry fit for duty. These latter, too, were 
much shaken by their severe losses in the re- 
connaissance of the 4th of March. They were a 
new regiment, that action was the first occasion 
on which they had been under, fire, and they 
had then lost their general and major, and fifty- 
six killed and wounded out of the total of 2 50 
actually engaged. It was hardly to be wondered 
at that these men should be depressed at the 
prospects before them. The siege was likely 
to be a long one, only half rations could be 
served to the men, and Captain Townshend saw 
clearly that under the circumstances he must 
husband the resources and energy of his men, 
and watch them and encourage them as much 
as possible. 

The following arrangements besides those 
already detailed, were now made. First a fort 
police was established to watch the Chitralis in 
the fort and prevent them communicating with 
the besiegers. Amongst these Chitralis were 
many who were anything but loyal to the 
British, and who, above everything, desired not 


to be found on the losing side when the crisis 
came. They had therefore to be carefully 
watched to see that they did not attempt com- 
munication with their friends outside the fort. 
Secondly, a system for extinguishing fires was 
organised. The water-carriers were ordered 
to sleep with their mussucks (skins) filled with 
water, and ammunition boxes and any vessels 
which could be found were also filled with water 
and placed ready to hand. Patrols were sent 
round day and night to watch accidents from 
fire. These precautions were especially neces- 
sary on account of the large amount of wood- 
work inside the fort, and because the walls 
and towers were built almost as much of wood 
as of stone. Thirdly, what sanitary arrange- 
ments were possible were made. Fourthly, 
followers, officers* servants, and other non- 
combatants were organised into parties for 
carrying water, putting out fire, carrying out 
demolitions, building up cover from fire, and 
for every other kind of work for which they 
could be employed, and so save the regular 
soldiers. Fifthly, hand mills for grinding were 
made and men told off for this work. Lastly, 


Captain Townshend instilled into the minds of 
all the men that a relieving force would soon 
come, and then they would be able to sally out 
and drive back the enemy. 

The work of the defence practically devolved 
Upon three officers only — Captain Townshend, 
Lieutenant Gurdon, and Lieutenant Harley— 
Surgeon-Major Robertson was engaged in his 
political duties under flags of truce and so forth 
in treating and corresponding with the enemy, 
Captain Campbell was wounded, and Surgeon- 
Captain Whitchurch was fully occupied with 
his medical duties. The three officers for the 
defence therefore took their turn of duty in 
watches of four hours each, as on board ship. 
Each, separately, would come on duty for his 
four hours, rest for eight, and then come on 
duty again for another four hours, and so on. 
Theoretically they had eight hours' rest, but in 
practice it was found that with alarms of attack 
and with various extra work about the fort to be 
done, they were more often at rest for four 
hours and at work for eight, than at work for 
four and at rest for eight hours, and the work 
was now all the more trying that they were 


only on half rations, and that they were never 
able to sleep undressed. What sleep they 
got was mostly in the daytime, and even then 
with all their clothes and generally even their 
belts on. It was a remarkable fact, however, 
that in spite of the work they had to go through 
and the anxieties they must necessarily have 
had, the sepoys told me when I reached the 
fort a week after the siege was over, that they 
never saw on the faces of the officers any sign 
of their anxiety. Captain Townshend and his 
officers in fact made a point of, whatever they 
might feel inwardly, always appearing cheery 
and in good heart before their men, and upon 
this depended in no small degree the success of 
the defence. The Sikhs had sufficient back- 
bone in themselves to keep up heart ; they had 
suffered no loss in the engagement previous to 
the siege, they were many of them veterans 
who had fought in many frontier fights, and 
their native officer had been engaged in the 
fierce battle at McNeil's Zareba in the Soudan 
campaign ; but the Kashmir troops were young 
and untried, they were now placed in a position 
which required all the finest qualities of a 


soldier, and it was for these especially that it 
was necessary that the British officers should 
be able to inspire confidence and hope. 

Captain Townshend still continued the work 
of demolishing the outer walls beyond the main 
wall of the fort whenever opportunity occurred 
and he had time to spare. He used the Pun- 
yalis for this, and they did it, he says, marvel- 
lously quickly. They crept along on their 
stomachs outside the walls, and with beams of 
wood pushed down the light outer walls which 
ran out round the fort. The enemy fired inces- 
santly upon them while the work was being 
carried out, but nobody was hit. Thirty rounds 
a day were also fired at the house in which 
Sher Afzul lived, in order to cause him annoy- 
ance, and let him see that the garrison were 
awake. When an attack was made at night, 
and there was no firing, the average amount of 
ammunition expended during the first two or 
three weeks of the siege was between forty and 
fifty rounds of Martini-Henry, and twenty or 
thirty rounds of Snider ammunition daily. To 
guard against attack by night, arrangements 
had to be made for lighting up the ground 


immediately outside the walls of the fort. At 
first, light balls made up of chips of wood and 
resinous pine, and soaked in kerosene oil, were 
lighted and thrown over the walls. But there 
were not sufficient materials to carry on this 
method nightly; and the defenders adopted the 
better plan of building out platforms from the 
walls, and on these lighting fires which would 
keep the ground in the vicinity of the fort illu- 
minated for the entire night. 

On the night of the I3th-i4th of March the 
enemy made an attack on the east face, outside 
which is a garden with a number of large trees. 
They sounded the advance on a bugle, and with 
much shouting and beating of tom-toms, and 
keeping up a straggling fire they advanced to 
the attack. The garrison received them with a 
brisk fire, and though men had been heard by the 
defenders shouting to them repeatedly to come 
and attack the water-way, they gradually slunk 
off back to their own lines. Finding the enemy 
still had an intention of attacking the water-way, 
Captain Townshend further strengthened the 
way to the river, loopholing and occupying 
the stables just by the gate. 


A letter was received from Sher Afzul on 
the 15th of March in which the would-be 
M eh tar said that a party of troops escorting an 
ammunition convoy had been surrounded and 
defeated at Reshun ; and further, that a British 
officer, who had come down from Mastuj, had 
also been taken prisoner, and that he had written 
a letter to Dr. Robertson, which Sher Afzul 
would deliver if the British Agent would send 
some one to receive it. This was the news of 
the disaster to Captain Ross, and Lieutenants 
Edwardes' and Fowler's parties. But the 
officers in Chitral refused to believe it. On 
the following day, however, a letter written by 
Lieutenant Edwardes from Reshun on the 13th 
of March was received, and in it he gave the 
news of the attack upon his party, and of his 
being shut up in the post which he had fortified. 

On the 19th of March Abdul Majid Khan, 
Umra Khan's lieutenant, who, with three 
hundred Jandulis, had been with Sher Afzul 
during the siege, sent a letter to Dr. Robertson 
saying that he much regretted that although he 
had sent off messengers to Reshun to say that 
peace had been made, a fight had taken place, 


and that two British officers and nine Moham- 
medan sepoys had been taken prisoners, and 
would arrive in Chitral on the following day. 
On the 20th of March, Lieutenant Edwardes 
and Fowler reached Chitral, and on the same 
day a native clerk from the garrison was allowed 
to come and see them, that he might be able to 
assure the defenders that there was no mistake 
about the disasters having occurred. 

The news of this unfortunate occurrence much 
depressed the garrison. They knew that it 
would not only greatly elate the Chitralis, but 
would also give into their hands a large quantity 
of ammunition and engineering stores which 
might be used against them. Captain Towns- 
hend, however, in no way relaxed his efforts 
in conducting a successful defence, and even 
during the few days' truce which followed, he 
worked incessantly at his defences, strengthening 
the cover to the water-way and constructing 
a semi-circular loopholed fleche outside the 

Rations were now running short and the 
officers had to commence eating horse-flesh, 
killing and salting their ponies. For the next 


few days and nights the rain poured in torrents, 
doing much damage to the walls of the fort, 
a large piece of the parapet on the west front 
subsiding, and giving the garrison much work 
in rebuilding it with beams in the evening. 

A Union Jack, made up from the red cloth 
of the sepoys' turbans and other material, was 
hoisted on the top of the highest tower, the 
south-west,on the 29th of March, and the garrison 
considered that from that time onward their 
luck began to turn. Improved head-cover was 
made on all the towers, and beams were put 
up in the stables to protect men going out of 
the water-gate down to the covered water-way. 
The top of the water-tower was also strength- 
ened, and its lowest story pierced with loop- 
holes. An attempt was made to send a 
messenger to Mr. Udny at Asmar, but the 
enemy was watching so closely, that the man 
was compelled to return, and not once during 
the siege were the garrison able to communi- 
cate with the outside world. 

The amount of ammunition in hand on the 
30th of March was 29,224 rounds of Martini- 
Henry ammunition^ — i.e. 356 rounds per rifle for 


eighty-two effective sepoys and fourteen Sikhs. 

Besides this, there were 68,587 rounds of 

Snider ammunition in hand for 261 effective 

men of the Kashmir Infantry, that is to say, 262 

rounds per rifle for these. There were now fit 

for duty 343 rifles in all. By these the following 

guards and pickets had to be furnished : — 

Main gate 
Parapet . 

Water pickets 

„ tower . 
Stable picket . 
Water-gate guard 
Guard over Amir-ul-Mulk 

„ „ Chitralis at night 

„ on ammunition 

„ „ garden gate 

„ „ four towers 


40 (10 on each parapet) 




Total 171 

Thus only 172 rifles were available with 
which to make a sortie. The strength of the 
guards had been reduced to the lowest number 
compatible with safety, and out of 172, at least 
thirty-five would be required for an inlying 
picket. The garrison now had supplies to the 
amount of 45,000 pounds of grain, which would 
last the number of persons in the fort seventy- 


four days, or up to the 13th of June, at the rate 
of 540 pounds a day. Some allowance for 
wastage would necessarily have to be made. 
There were only left thirty-six pounds of the 
clarified butter which native soldiers require so 
much. And this was kept for the sick and 
wounded, and for lights at guards in the fort, 
and even then would only last another twelve 
days. After that it was known that the already 
heavy sick-list would be greatly increased, 
for the men were all the time on half rations, 
and were getting little else than this clarified 
butter. Stenches in the stables, too, in which 
were situated the latrines, were terrible, and a 
picket of twenty-five men had to be placed there 
every night, as it lay on the water-way. There 
was still a little rum left, and some tea, and the 
Sikhs were given one dram of rum every four 
days, and the Kashmir Infantry were given a 
tea ration every third day. 

The enemy made a new sangar on the 
opposite bank of the river on the 31st of March, 
at a distance of only 175 yards from the place 
where the garrison had to take the water from 
the river. The enemy showed the greatest 


skill in the construction and defence of their 
sangars, making regular zigzag approaches after 
the manner of our own engineers, excavating 
trenches, and building up breast-works of 
fascines, stones, and earth. The defenders 
replied by placing screens of tents to conceal 
the men going down to the water, so that the 
enemy should not be able to see when any one 
was on the way to the river's edge. More 
beams were also put outside the water-gate, to 
protect the doorway from the fire of the rifle- 
men on the opposite bank of the river. 

But the enemy were not only advancing their 
trenches towards the water-way from the oppo- 
site bank of the river, they also now commenced 
the construction of a covered way to the water 
from their lower sangar on the north-west front 
of the fort, close down to the river. This sangar 
was only about eighty yards from the defenders' 
covered way to the water. Captain Townshend 
now commenced further protection for men 
going to the water, by sinking a trench in the 
stables. On the 5th and 6th of April, the 
enemy showed great activity on the south-east 
corner of the fort, occupying the summer-house 


only forty yards distant, and they also con- 
structed a large fascine sangar in front of the 
main gate, at a distance of only forty yards. 
The garrison commenced loopholing the lower 
story of this tower to command the east end of 
the stables, and more loopholes were also made 
in the stable buildings at the west end. From 
their proximity, the enemy were able to cause 
great annoyance to the besiegers, and it was 
with great difficulty that the defenders were able 
to keep a proper watch over their proceedings. 
On the 7th of April, at about 5 a.m., a large 
number of the enemy opened a heavy match- 
lock fire from the trees in front of the north 
tower, and an attack was made on the covered 
way to the water. The defenders were instantly 
on the alert, and steady volleys were fired upon 
the enemy by the Sikhs, which caused them to 
decamp towards the bazaar. 

While this firing was taking place on the 
western face, the enemy managed with great 
pluck to place huge faggots and blocks of wood 
in a pile against the corner of the gun tower 
on the south-east, and setting alight to it, the 
tower was soon set on fire, and began blazing 


up. This was a most serious matter. Captain 
Townshend immediately sent up the whole of 
the inlying picket with their greatcoats full of 
earth, and as much water as could be obtained 
was brought up to throw down upon the fire. 
A strong wind was blowing at the time, and 
though for a moment the fire was got under, it 
soon blazed up again, the flames mounting up 
in spaces between the beams and the tower. 
Dr. Robertson, who was in the tower superin- 
tending the putting out of the fire, was wounded 
at a hole in the wall, and a Sikh shot there the 
next minute. A sentry of the Kashmir Infantry 
was also shot. Altogether nine men were 
wounded, and as the enemy were only forty 
yards distant, no one could appear above the 
wall, or at any hole, for the purpose of throwing 
down earth or water upon the fire raging below, 
without the risk of being shot. It seemed at 
one time, therefore, as if it would be impossible 
to keep down the flames, which were now work- 
ing right into the tower, and which, if they 
could not be subdued, would quickly burn down 
the whole of the wood-work of which so much 
of the tower is composed, and so cause the 



whole tower to fall a mass of ruins, and make a 
great gap in the walls of the fort. Eventually 
the defenders devised the plan of making a 
water-spout, which they pushed out through a 
hole in the corner of the tower, and then pour- 
ing in water from the inside, allowed it to pour 
down on the flames below\ In this way, after 
working for about five hours, the fire was got 
under, but water was kept pouring down inside 
the walls all day long, and holes were picked 
inside the tower to thoroughly damp it out. To 
guard against this happening again Captain 
Townshend made more strict arrangements for 
watching the ground under the walls, and the 
better-disciplined Sikhs were put as sentries in 
place of the men of the Kashmir Infantry. 

The Machicoulis galleries were gradually im- 
proved and loopholed inside, in a way that all 
the ground immediately under the tower could 
be well watched, and a sentry always lay in each 
of these galleries. Captain Townshend also 
had heaps of earth collected, and sent up on the 
parapets, and vessels and ammunition boxes 
filled with water, placed in every story in each 
of the towers. The waterproof sheets of the 


14th Sikhs were utilised for the purpose of 
holding water, and all the servants and followers 
were formed into a fire picket under Surgeon- 
Captain Whitchurch. Heaps of stones were 
placed at the top of the towejrs for the sentries 
to throw down from time to time in the dark. 
On the evening of the 8th of April, some red- 
hot embers and a bundle of faggots were 
observed quite close to the tower, and it was 
evident that the enemy had succeeded in rush- 
ing up and placing these there while the sentries 
were being relieved. Captain Townshend 
accordingly arranged that the sentries should 
be relieved at a different time from day to day, 
so that the enemy should be unaware when the 
relief was taking place. On that day, Captain 
Townshend demolished some remaining walls 
left outside the main gate, and he also built a 
stone loopholed tambour in front of the main 
gate. This would hold ten men, and from it 
it was possible to flank the whole of the west 
front with its two towers. 

The Machicoulis gallery in the gun tower 
was still further improved, and good loopholes 
were made in the lower story. A hole was dug 

M 2 


inside the tower in the floor to the depth of 
about four feet, and then a shutter-like loophole 
was made which commanded the ground at the 
foot of the south face of the tower. Sentries 
were placed in all of these. Fourteen men 
were now permanently in this gun tower, and 
an officer lived in it. The number of men 
in hospital now were n Sikhs, 19 Kashmir 
Infantry,, and 6 others, and there were 49 out- 
patients besides, making the total number of 
sick 85. 

A great attack upon the water-way was made 
on the night of the ioth-i ith of April. The 
enemy came rushing in with a tremendous din, 
yelling, and beating tom-toms, but the defenders 
immediately sprang to their stations, and fired 
section-volleys from the parapets. These 
volleys caused them, as on other attacks, to 
retreat towards the bazaar, and with a loss of 
only one man wounded on the part of the 
defenders, this last assault of the enemy was 
beaten. On the following day it was noticed 
that the enemy .began playing tom-toms and 
Pathan pipes, in the summer-house at night, 
and shouting abuse at intervals. At this time, 



large parties of the enemy were seen moving 
away towards Mastuj, and the garrison began 
speculating upon the approach of a force from 
Gilgit to their relief. The enemy were indeed 
moving off to oppose Colonel Kelly, who had 
now crossed the Shandur Pass and reached 
Mastuj on his way to Chitral. 

On the evening of the 16th of April, it having 
struck the defenders that the tom-toming, which 
was so constantly kept up in the summer-house, 
was intended to drown the sound of the picking 
of a mine, sentries in the gun tower were 
warned to be on the alert, and to listen intently. 
It was thought quite possible that the enemy 
might have the intention of digging a mine 
from the summer-house in towards the tower, 
and right under it, so as to be able to blow it 
up, and effect an entrance to the fort. At 
midnight one of the sentries in the lower story 
of the gun tower, reported that he heard the 
noise of picking. Captain Townshend himself 
went up, but could hear nothing. But about 
ii a.m. on the morning of the 17th, the native 
officer in the gun tower reported to him that he 
could hear the noise of picking quite distinctly. 


Captain Townshend accordingly again went up, 
and there could now be no mistake that a mine 
was being made, and that it had reached to 
within twelve feet of the walls of the fort. Dr. 
Robertson came up and listened too ; and both 
officers agreed that the only thing to be done 
was to rush the summer-house, and destroy the 
mine, for there was no time to construct a 
counter-mine, and the enemy's plan must be 
frustrated at once. 

Lieutenant Harley was accordingly told off 
to command a party of forty Sikhs, and sixty of 
the Kashmir Infantry, and he was given the 
following instructions : — " He was not to fire a 
shot in rushing to the assault, but to use the 
bayonet only. He was, however, to take forty 
rounds of ammunition for the purpose of firing 
upon the enemy after he had captured the 
summer-house. He was to take with him three 
powder bags with no pounds of powder, and 
forty feet of powder-hose, and picks and spades. 
He was to go straight for a gap in the wall of 
the house with his whole party without any 
support. Having rushed the place, he was to 
hold it with part of his men, while with the 

Photo Lafayette, 

Lieutenant H. K. Harley, D.S.O. 



remainder he was to destroy the mine by pulling 
down the upright and wooden supports, if any, 
or by blowing it in if he saw fit. If possible he 
was to take a prisoner or two." 

Captain Townshend summoned the native 
officers going with Lieutenant Harley, and 
explained to them the object of the sortie, that 
they might be able to make it thoroughly clear 
to their non-commissioned officers and men. 
All officers carried matches, and one officer was 
told off to bring up the rear, and see that no 
man hung back. 

At four o'clock in the afternoon of the 17th 
April, the gate of the east face of the fort was 
quietly opened, and Lieutenant Harley rushed 
out at the head of his party. A man was shot 
on either side of him, even in the short space 
of eighty yards which they had to cover before 
reaching the walls of the summer-house. But 
the enemy had been taken by surprise, and 
were only able to get off a few hurried shots 
before Lieutenant Harley and his men were up 
to the walls, over them, and into their midst. 
At the time of this unexpected assault there 
were about thirty Pathans in the house. They 


bolted down the garden wall, and stopping at 
the far end, threw out fascines from behind it, 
and from under this cover, poured a heavy fire 
into the house. Lieutenant Harley told off a 
certain number of his men to reply to this, and 
then sought for the main shaft of the mine. It 
was found outside the summer-house, behind 
the garden wall, and thirty-five Chitralis were 
bayoneted in the mouth of the mine as they 
came out. 

While Harley was employed in clearing the 
mine and holding the summer-house, the enemy, 
now thoroughly on the alert, began moving in 
large numbers down to the river-bank and 
along behind the garden wall towards the water- 
way, with the intention of making a counter- 
attack upon it. Captain Townshend having 
considerable anxiety that an attack made now 
while a hundred of his men were outside might 
be successful, lined the parapets and kept an 
incessant steady fire upon the assailants, while 
he sent three successive messengers to Lieu- 
tenant Harley to hurry up in his work, and 
warning him that the enemy were gathering 
round the garden with the intention of either 



cutting him off, or striking at the water-way. 
In about an hour's time Lieutenant Harley 
cleared the mine of the men inside it, and 
taking down the powder bags placed them in 
the mine. These were exploded, and the work 
being completed, Lieutenant Harley rushed 
back to the fort again, the enemy from the end 
of the garden keeping up a furious fusillade as 
they retired. The party lost, altogether, 8 men 
killed and 13 wounded, i.e. 21 killed and 
wounded out of a total of 100 men. But the 
work had been accomplished, the mine had 
been successfully blown up, until it now lay 
exposed as a trench running up to within ten 
feet of the fort, and the besiegers had been 
shown that now, after forty-six days of the siege, 
the defenders still had pluck and spirits enough 
left in them to assume a vigorous offensive. It 
was the most brilliant episode in this gallant 

Yet the defenders were not to be carried 
away by their success, or led into slackening 
their precautions in any way, and they im- 
mediately began to run a subterranean gallery 
round the tower, to ensure that if the enemy 


again attempted mining, they must run into it. 
But now relief was close at hand, and the 
labours and anxieties of the garrison were soon 
to cease, 

On the night of the 18th of April, a man was 
heard outside the walls shouting to those inside 
that he had important news to tell. With great 
precautions he was let into the fort, and he was 
then recognised as a man known to the officers. 
He told them that Sher Afzul and the Janduli 
chiefs, with all their men, had fled in the night, 
and that a British force from Gilgit was only 
two marches distant. The officers at first 
refused to believe this story, for the news 
seemed all too good to be true, and they feared 
that the enemy were merely trying to entrap 
them into leaving the fort or slackening their 
watching, and so catching them at a disadvant- 
age. But as no signs of the enemy could be 
observed, patrols were sent out, and then, as 
it became apparent that the enemy had really 
drawn off, the famished British officers, in the 
first place, showed their satisfaction at their 
release by sitting down to eat a good square 
meal. They had so far been only able to eat 


sparingly even of their horse-flesh, but now, as 
the siege was over, they could eat as they 
wished. Then they tried to sleep, but being so 
excited they found it impossible to do so ; so 
they got up and ate again, calling their first 
meal "supper," and the second meal "early 
breakfast." At daylight the next morning, 
patrols were sent out at some distance from the 
fort, and the whole place was then found to be 
deserted, and on the following day Colonel 
Kelly's little force marched in from Gilgit. 

So ended this memorable siege. " The 
quite exemplary coolness, intrepidity, and 
energy exhibited by Captain Townshend, and 
the valour and endurance displayed by all 
ranks in the defence of the fort at Chitral," said 
the Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir George 
White, the defender of Ladysmith, M have 
added greatly to the prestige of the British 
arms, and will elicit the admiration of all who 
read this account of the gallant defence made 
by a small party of Her Majesty's forces, and 
combined with the troops of His Highness the 
Maharajah of Kashmir, against heavy odds 
when shut up in a fort in the heart of an enemy's 


country, many miles from succour and support." 
And the Viceroy, in endorsing the Commander- 
in-Chiefs remarks, said : " That his words 
will, he feels assured, be deeply felt by every 
subject of Her Majesty throughout the 
British Empire. The steady front shown to 
the enemy, the military skill displayed in the 
conducting of the defence, the cheerful endur- 
ance of all the hardships of the siege, the gallant 
demeanour of the troops, and the conspicuous 
example of heroism and intrepidity recorded, 
will ever be remembered as forming a glorious 
episode in the history of the Indian Empire and 
its army." The Viceroy joined with the Com- 
mander-in-Chief in deploring the loss of Captain 
Baird, General Baj Singh, and Major Bhikan 
Singh, and of so many other brave soldiers 
who fell in the discharge of their duty. Her 
Majesty the Queen was pleased to express her 
gracious approbation of the successful efforts of 
the troops, and His Excellency the Viceroy in 
Council tendered to Surgeon-Major Robertson, 
Captain Townshend, and to the whole garrison, 
his heartfelt congratulations on their gallant 
defence of the position entrusted to them, while 


it was an especial pleasure, His Excellency 
said, to recognise the devoted aid given by the 
loyal troops of His Highness the Maharajah of 

All ranks in the garrison were granted six 
months' pay, which reward also fell to the heirs 
of those killed, in addition to the pensions to 
which they might be entitled. Surgeon- Major 
Robertson was created a Knight Commander of 
the Order of the Star of India ; Captain Towns- 
hend was made a Companion of the Order of 
the Bath, and promoted to a Brevet majority ; 
Captain Campbell was given the Decoration of 
the Distinguished Service Order, and promoted 
to a Brevet majority ; and Lieutenant Gurdon 
and Lieutenant Harley were both also given 
the Decoration of the Distinguished Service 
Order ; and, lastly, Surgeon-Captain Whit- 
church was awarded that most coveted of all 
rewards, the Victoria Cross. 


colonel kelly's march 

How it came that Colonel Kelly arrived in 
so timely a way to the relief of the hard-pressed 
garrison has now to be shown. In the begin- 
ning of March alarming reports of the state of 
affairs in Chitral began to reach Gilgit, the 
head-quarters of the British Political Agent and 
of the force of some 3,000 men stationed on 
this frontier for its supervision and protection. 
The whole of Lower Chitral was rumoured to 
be up in arms against the British, and communi- 
cation with Mr. Robertson and the officers who 
had two months previously marched from Gilgit 
to Chitral was now entirely cut off. The flame 
of rebellion seemed to be spreading, and the 
gravest anxiety was felt for the safety of the 
detachments of troops at the various posts on 

the road and of the several parties which were 



marching towards Chitral. Mr. Robertson was 
the British Agent, deputed by the Government 
of India for the conduct of political affairs on 
this frontier ; but he was now shut up in Chitral, 
and the control of our relations with the various 
states round Gilgit and Chitral now, at this 
critical juncture, devolved upon Captain W. H. 
Stewart, and it may well be imagined that his 
task in keeping the various peoples on this 
frontier quiet and orderly, with the catching 
influence of the troubles in Chitral, was no easy 

These excitable and impressionable people 
of the Hindu Kush spring to arms under little 
provocation when once the spirit of fighting 
is abroad. News of what was occurring in 
Chitral would rapidly reach them, and in every 
house and hamlet little else would be spoken of. 
Unless, therefore, the British officers in contact 
with them could steady them by their influence, 
there would be a great risk that, thoughtlessly, 
and rashly, they might rise against us as the 
Chitralis had done. It hung in a balance 
whether they would go with us or against us, 
and it is satisfactory to find that British in- 

Native Levy. 




fluence was still so secure even in states like 
Hunza and Nagar, which had been subdued 
only three years previously, that when in this 
crisis Captain Stewart inquired through the 
political officer in Hunza and Nagar if any 
more men were willing to enlist temporarily as 
levies in addition to the ninety men already 
furnished and now stationed in Ghizr on the 
way to Chitral, the chiefs of these two states 
showed the utmost feeling of loyalty, and imme- 
diately responded by arriving in Gilgit with 
some 900 men of all ranks ready to serve 
Government in any way required. Each man 
brought a fortnight's supply in order to avoid 
giving trouble, and the most enthusiastic spirit 
was displayed by all. A certain number of 
these men were sent on to Chitral, while others 
were employed in guarding passes near Gilgit, 
and as will be seen later on, these men who 
three short years before were fighting desper- 
ately against us, now stood by us in the time 
of need and rendered to Colonel Kelly in his 
march to Chitral such service as he repeatedly 
acknowledged in terms of the highest praise. 
Colonel Kelly was the officer in command of 



the troops on the Gilgit frontier. He was the 
colonel of the 32nd Pioneers, a regiment which 
had a few months previously arrived upon this 
frontier partly for the purpose of constructing 
roads and fortified posts, and partly to give a 
backbone to the force of Kashmir troops who 
composed the principal part of the garrison. 
It was the same regiment as afterwards escorted 
me in Tibet. 

The total strength of 3,000 men on this 
frontier was made up of the regiment of Pion- 
eers of the regular army of India ; 200 men of 
the 14th Sikhs, also of the Indian Army; and 
three battalions of Kashmir Infantry of 600 
men each, and a battery of Kashmir Mountain 
Artillery. This force in the beginning of 
March was distributed in the following manner : 
At Chitral Fort 100 of the 14th Sikhs and 300 
Kashmir Infantry ; at Mastuj, 100 Sikhs and 
150 Kashmir Infantry; at Ghizr, 100 Kashmir 
Infantry; at Gupis, 140 Kashmir Infantry; at 
Gilgit, a Kashmir regiment complete. At 
Hunza and on the line between Hunza and 
Gilgit, there were 200 Kashmir Infantry, and 
in Chilas 400. A Pioneer regiment, 800 strong, 


was located at Bunji, and on the line between 
there and Chilas. 

When it became apparent how critical the 
state of affairs was, the Government of India 
saw that it was necessary to move up as many 
troops as could be spared from Gilgit to afford 
some relief to the Chitral garrison till the large 
force under General Low, which was to march 
from the Peshawur direction, could reach Chi- 
tral ; but it was not possible to send any large 
force from Gilgit, for in the neighbourhood of 
that place there are several small states who 
had but very recently given trouble, and would 
now have to be watched, however much loyalty 
they might show. Hunza had only been sub- 
dued at the end of 1891, and Chilas had been 
brought under submission a year later. There 
was no sign of disturbance in either of these 
states, and Hunza especially seemed quiet and 
contented ; but it and the neighbouring state of 
Nagar had to be guarded, and in Chilas, which 
is in contact with fanatical and turbulent tribes 
of the Indus valley, there is always constant 
risk of insurrection. Under these circumstances, 
and as it was not known how Yasin and the 

N 2 


states to the south of it might act, with Chitral 
in a state of rebellion close by, it would have 
been unwise to send away from the Gilgit 
district any larger force than the 400 Pioneers 
and two guns which it was now decided Colonel 
Kelly should take with him to march towards 
Chitral in order to aid, the garrison to prolong 
their defence till relief could be sent from the 
Peshawur direction. 

Chitral is 220 miles from Gilgit, and the 
road between the two places runs through 
mountainous, difficult country, and crosses a 
pass 12,400 feet high. The valleys through 
which the road passes are all very narrow, in 
just a few places opening out to a width of a 
mile, but, for the greater part of the distance, 
only a few hundred yards broad, and in many 
cases mere defiles with the mountains thousands 
of feet high on either side and standing out 
in rocky precipices from the stream at the 

The Shandur Pass is about ninety miles from 
Chitral and 130 from Gilgit. On the west side 
of this pass, as has been already mentioned, 
the whole country was up in arms against the 


British, and news now reached Gilgit, that 
besides the garrison of Chitral being shut up, 
the post of Mastuj was besieged, and, finally, that 
the detachment of troops under Captain Ross 
had been annihilated, and that officer killed, and 
that a second detachment under Lieutenant 
Edwardes and Fowler had been attacked on the 
way to Chitral. On the east side of the Shan- 
dur Pass is the province of Yasin, formerly 
independent, but during recent years an integral 
part of the Chitral state. This province had 
so far remained quiet, but it could not of course 
be known whether Colonel Kelly in marching- 
through it would encounter opposition. Even 
if he did not meet with actual hostility, and if 
the people were only passively obstructive, his 
task of reaching Chitral would be an almost 
hopeless one, for both in the matter of supplies 
and of transport he must of necessity largely 
depend upon the people of the country through 
which he passed. 

On March 23rd and 24th Colonel Kelly's 
force set out from Gilgit, the news having just 
previously reached them of the annihilation of 
Captain Ross's party. The first detachment 


which Colonel Kelly himself accompanied was 
composed of 200 men of the 32nd Pioneers 
under Captain Borrodaile, with Lieutenants 
Bethufle (afterwards killed in Tibet) and Cobbe, 
and Surgeon-Captain Browning-Smith ; and the 
second detachment of 200 Pioneers under 
Lieutenants Petersen and Cooke. Two guns 
of the Kashmir Mountain Battery also accom- 
panied the latter detachment. 

It was with this little force that Colonel 
Kelly started on his venturesome journey to 
succour the Chitral garrison, to restore British 
prestige, to steady the frontier, to keep those 
who were wavering from flooding over to the 
opposite side, and to give heart to those who 
still trusted and looked to the British. And it 
may be well here to explain, for the benefit of 
those not acquainted with our Indian Army, who 
the men were whom Colonel Kelly was now 
taking with him on this march. The Pioneer 
regiment, of which he was taking a wing, is 
composed of Sikhs from the Punjab. The regi- 
ment is organised and equipped for the special 
purpose of making roads and doing light pioneer 

Sepoy, 32ND Pioneers. 


work in advance of the army. It is drilled, and 
on service fights as an ordinary infantry bat- 
talion, but it can be used as well for the important 
work of road-making and construction of out- 
posts as for ordinary fighting purposes. The 
men were then armed with Martini-Henry rifles, 
and carried in addition, each man, a pickaxe, 
a shovel, or some other tool required for pioneer 
purposes. Colonel Kelly's force, to save trans- 
port, which was very difficult to obtain, travelled 
without tents. Each sepoy was allowed fifteen 
pounds of baggage, and he carried a greatcoat 
and eighty rounds of ammunition, and wore a 
short "poshtin " (sheepskin coat). The guns of 
the Kashmir Mountain Battery were 7-pounders 
of a rather antiquated pattern. The officers 
and men of the battery belonged to the army of 
the Maharajah of Kashmir, and for the last few 
years had been drilled under the supervision of 
British officers. 

At Gupis (sixty-five miles from Gilgit), where 
there is a small masonry fort, built in the pre- 
vious year by Kashmir troops under the super- 
vision of Captain Townshend as an advanced 


post in the direction of Chitral, Lieutenant 
Stewart, Royal Artillery, joined Colonel Kelly, 
to be with the two guns brought from Gilgit. 

Five marches further on at Ghizr a small 
detachment of sixty Kashmir Infantry under 
Lieutenant Gough, forty Kashmir Sappers and 
Miners under the supervision of Lieutenant 
Oldham, R.E., and 100 levies from Hunza- 
Nagar, were stationed. 

Ghizr is 10,000 feet above the sea-level, and 
is a small village occupied by a hardy and 
somewhat independent set of people. Here it 
was that Colonel Kelly's chief difficulties were 
likely to commence. He had been able to get 
so far without encountering any serious obstacle. 
The people of Yasin had shown no hostility, and 
Ghizr had been reached without mishap ; but 
here at Ghizr snow lay deep on the ground, and 
at the time of Colonel Kelly's arrival had been 
falling steadily for five days previously. The 
Shandur Pass (two marches ahead) had to be 
crossed, and the British officers had to bear in 
mind that if the pass could not be crossed, or if 
any sort of disaster befell them on the opposite 
side, there was the almost certainty that the 


loyalty of the people of Yasin in their rear 
would not stand the test of further trial, and 
that the Yasinis, believing that the Chitralis in 
rebellion on the western side of the pass must 
be in the ascendant, w T ould begin to trim their 
sails to join them so as to save their" own 

On the 31st of March both detachments of 
Colonel Kelly's force had reached Ghizr, and in 
spite of the heavy snowfall and of the unprom- 
ising look of matters, it was decided to push on 
the next day towards Chitral, for the British 
officers in the fort there had now been shut up 
for four weeks, and it was urgently necessary 
to press forward as rapidly as possible to their 

On April 1st, Colonel Kelly left Ghizr with 
the whole force, but difficulties commenced at 
once. The start, which was to have been made 
at 7 a.m., did not take place for three hours 
later on account of the coolies required for the 
carriage of the supplies in crossing the pass 
having absconded. For some hours the force 
plodded resolutely through the snow, but at 
about 2 p.m. it became apparent that, eager as 


they were to push on to the relief of their 
comrades in Chitral, it would be impossible to 
proceed with the means at their disposal. 
What was most necessary was to take on tha 
guns ; for the mere rumour that Colonel Kelly 
was bringing guns with him had been sufficient 
to produce the strongest moral effect upon the 
Chitralis, unaccustomed as they were to these 
weapons. The Chitralis might formerly have 
dreaded the regular troops of the Indian Army, 
but they had already annihilated two detach- 
ments of these troops, and were now engaged 
in besieging others, and Colonel Kelly's 
Pioneers alone might not have been able to 
produce that strong moral effect which was so 
necessary ; but if guns could be brought over, 
the Chitralis would certainly be terrified, and 
Colonel Kelly was above everything anxious 
that the two guns he had brought from Gilgit 
should accompany him over the pass. 

Here, however, just at the critical time, there 
seemed no possibility of his being able to carry 
out his object. The gun-carriages and the 
ammunition boxes, etc., are carried on mules, 
and, on this march from Ghizr towards the 




pass, it was found that the mules could scarcely 
move through the snow ; they were floundering 
about in it, up to their bellies, and in the after- 
noon it became apparent that it was no longer 
possible to take them any further, much less to 
bring them over the pass. This was the state 
of affairs on April ist, as Colonel Kelly was 
marching out from the last village towards the 
pass. Colonel Kelly had now, therefore, to 
decide whether the enterprise should be aban- 
doned for the present and a more favourable 
season awaited, or whether a part of his force 
should be sent to cross the pass while the 
remainder returned to quarters at Ghizr. He 
elected the latter arrangement, and while the 
guns and 200 of the Pioneers, with 50 Nagar 
levies, returned with him to Ghizr, 200 of the 
Pioneers, with Captain Borrodaile, Lieutenant 
Cobbe, and Surgeon-Captain Browning-Smith, 
and 40 Kashmir Sappers and Miners under 
Lieutenant Oldham, R.E., with 50 Hynza 
levies, remained at Teeru, a small hamlet about 
seven miles beyond Ghizr in the direction of 
the pass. 

On the 2nd of April snow fell the whole day, 


and Captain Borrodaile, with the detachment 
which was to make the first attempt to cross the 
pass, had to remain patiently at Teem. In the 

afternoon Lieutenant Stewart, R.A., arrived 
from Ghizr again with the two guns. It was 
impossible to carry these guns over on mules, 
but the Pioneers, unwilling to leave them 
behind, had themselves volunteered to carry 
them over on their backs. They had gone to 
their officers and said, that in addition to their 
own rifles and ammunition, pioneer equipment, 
and kit, they would guarantee that they would 
themselves transport the guns with the gun- 
carriages, ammunition, etc., over the pass. A 
detachment of the 4th Kashmir Rifles, under 
Lieutenant Gough, had also volunteered to 
assist in this work, and they, too, now arrived 
in Teeru. 

This splendid offer, which showed so clearly 
the noble spirit which animated the troops, was 
eagerly accepted by the British officer, and on 
the 3rd of April Captain Borrodaile set out from 
Teeru to cross the pass with his spirited little 
body of native troops. The snow was very 
deep and the work of marching through it 


excessively heavy. A more arduous task than 
the men had voluntarily set themselves to do, 
it would be hard to imagine ; but hard though 
it was, to their everlasting credit, the feat was 
successfully accomplished. Sledges were at 
first tried, but they had to be given up as use- 
less. Narrow as these sledges were, a single 
man track was still narrower and extremely 
uneven with great holes every few steps, so 
that they could not be hauled easily and were 
abandoned. All day long the men struggled 
through the snow with the guns, till between 
nine and ten o'clock in the evening it was so 
dark that the track could scarcely be seen, and 
it was then decided that if the men were to get 
in at all, those behind would have to drop their 
loads. This was accordingly done, ammunition 
boxes, etc., were stacked in the snow, and the 
troops marched on to Langar, the camping 
spot at the foot of the pass. 

There was only one small hut in which the 
more exhausted men were placed, and the 
remainder being without tents had to remain 
in the open for the whole night. The men 
with Captain Borrodaile were Sikhs from the 


plains of the Punjab, brought up for generations 
in one of the hottest climates in the world, and 
they were now called upon, after the severe 
struggles of this and previous days, to spend a 
night on the snow at nearly 12,000 feet above 
sea-level, and with the thermometer somewhere 
about zero (Fahrenheit). Sleep for most of 
them was out of the question ; the men as far 
as possible gathered round small fires which 
had been made up from the brushwood to be 
obtained near the camping spot, and wearily 
awaited the dawn and final struggle of the 
coming day. 

On the following morning Captain Borrodaile 
set off for the pass ; but as it had now become 
clear to him that if his men were to attempt to 
carry over the guns as well as their own kit, 
they would inevitably break down altogether, 
he decided to leave Lieutenants Stewart and 
Gough behind, and directed these two officers 
to employ that day in bringing the remaining 
loads into camp and storing them there till 
either Captain Borrodaile could send back 
assistance from the opposite side of the pass, 
or until aid could come from Ghizr. Captain 




Borrodaile s men found the task of crossing the 
pass just heart-breaking ; every few steps they 
would sink in through the snow, although some 
sort of a track had been beaten out by the 
levies going on in front. At times they would 
fall in almost up to their armpits, so that they 
had to be pulled out by their comrades. This 
was fearfully trying to men loaded as they 
were, to men too who had passed an almost 
sleepless night and started for this, the crisis of 
the enterprise, thoroughly exhausted. 

By the time the party had reached the middle 
of the pass men were falling out in twos and 
threes, sitting down in the snow as if they were 
on the point of giving up the struggle. The 
heavy loads which they had to carry, rifles, 
ammunition, haversacks, greatcoats, etc., were 
weighing them down and utterly exhausting 
them. The snow was from three to five feet 
deep and quite eighteen inches of it was soft and 
fresh. At the same time the sun was pouring 
down upon the men, and adding to their dis- 
comfort by the glare which it produced from the 
white surface of the snow. Although all the 
men were provided with blue spectacles, many 


cases of snow-blindness occurred. The absence 
of water too caused the men additional suffering. 
Little relief was afforded them from sucking 
snow, and many were afraid to do that, think- 
ing it might produce some bad influence. So 
exhausted were the men that it seemed at one 
time to the British officers that it would be 
necessary to spend another night on the snow, 
but at about 5.30 the advance guard came to 
the end of the flat part of the top of the pass, 
and the descent was at last commenced. News 
was at once passed along the line and fresh 
spirit came into the men. They pulled them- 
selves together for a final effort, and when a 
little further on some water was obtained, they 
began to step out briskly. A critical time had 
now been reached ; the party were descending 
the western side of the pass into the part of the 
country which had for a month now been up in 
open arms against the British. It was known 
that there was a village at the foot of the pass, 
and it was quite possible that Captain Bor- 
rodaile's exhausted troops might find resistance 
offered them here at the very culminating point 
of their troubles. Captain Borrodaile had 


therefore to send on his few levies to scout and 
discover if the enemy were in any force in the 
village of Laspur, at the foot of the pass, and to 
report on the state of affairs there. Fortunately 
no opposition was met with, for the Chitralis 
had scarcely expected that the troops would be 
able to cross the pass in its then condition, and 
at about 7.30, nearly twelve hours after the 
first start had been made from Langar, Laspur 
was reached. 

In this straggling village a few inhabitants 
were found, who immediately came in to pay 
their respects, as, 200 men in their midst, even 
though they were so exhausted, were to be pro- 
pitiated. Captain Borrodaile's party then made 
themselves snug for the night in the various 
buildings and outhouses, improvised a few 
rough defences against a night attack, and then 
prayed that for this night at least, after all their 
terrible exertions, they might be left in peace. 

On the next morning (April 5th) Captain 
Borrodaile, having seized a number of inhabit- 
ants of the village, sent them back over the 
pass to Langar to help Lieutenant Stewart and 

Lieutenant Gough to carry over the guns and 



the remaining loads, which had been left on the 
near side of the pass. These two officers, with 
the small detachment of -Kashmir Infantry, 
succeeded in their task, and to them is due the 
credit of performing this splendid feat of carry- 
ing guns over a high pass in, perhaps, its worst 
condition, and bringing them down into Chitral 
territory to give so important a help to Colonel 
Kelly's force. On the 4th, Surgeon-Captain 
Browning-Smith made an examination of the 
men who had crossed the pass, and found 
twenty-five cases of frost-bite and thirty of 
snow-blindness. These were fortunately not 
severe, but it was evident that even one more 
day's work such as these troops had had tq< 
undergo would have quite incapacitated the 

We must now try and realise what was the 
position of this small detachment which Captain 
Borrodaile had with such resolution brought 
over the Shandur Pass. They were now in the 
presence of an enemy elated with success, and 
behind them this terrible pass, practically cut- 
ting off their retreat. The village of Laspur had 
to a certain extent been surprised, though two 


spies stationed on the pass had been observed 
by Captain Borrodailes party, but a considerable 
number of Chitralis were known to be in the 
valley lower down, and an attack on Captain 
Borrodaile might be made at any moment. 
Colonel Kelly's instructions to Captain Bor- 
rodaile were to entrench himself on arrival, 
return his coolies, and endeavour to open up 
communication with the garrison of Mastuj, two 
marches below Laspur, who were besieged by 
the Chitralis. 

On the evening of April 5th a short recon- 
naissance was made below the camp, as the 
levies had brought back information that a 
small body of the enemy had been seen. 

On April 6th a reconnaissance in force was 
made by Captain Borrodaile to Gasht, twelve 
miles distant ; the two guns and one hundred 
and twenty of the pioneers taking part in the 
movement. Gasht was reached without op- 
position, and the villages on the route were 
found almost deserted, but Captain Borrodailes 
troops were able to seize some thirty inhabit- 
ants and twelve ponies to serve for transport 

purposes. Captain Borrodaile returned to 
o 2 


Laspur the same night, and he then found 
Colonel Kelly with Lieutenant Beynon, his 
staff-officer, and about fifty levies had crossed 
the pass and arrived in Laspur. 

On the 7th the troops rested and prepared 
for an advance on the following day. 

On the 8th the force reached Gasht un- 
opposed, and a small reconnaissance in the 
evening showed that the enemy were occupying 
a strong position across the valley at a place 
called Chokalwat, a few miles below. This 
position Colonel Kelly decided to attack the 
next morning. The Chokalwat position is one 
of great natural strength, and of that order 
which is generally described as impregnable. 
Any one looking at it would say that here a 
hundred men could keep a whole army at bay. 
On each side of the valley mountains tower up 
thousands of feet in rugged precipices ; a river 
flows along it, and the only road leads either 
along the bottom of a stone-shoot, down which 
the enemy from above could hurl rocks on any 
force passing beneath ; or else over the river 
and. by a zigzag path up some cliffs, the edges 
of which the enemy had lined with sangars or 

vii KELLY'S MARCH 197 

stone breastworks. At accessible points on the 
mountain sides the enemy had also constructed 
these breastworks, and if the Chitralis were 
determined to offer Colonel Kelly at all a 
resolute opposition, he might have been brought 
to a standstill here at his first contact with the 
enemy, and his main object of affording speedy 
relief to the garrison in Chitral would be 
frustrated. In the Hunza campaign of 1891, 
our troops had been kept at bay for nearly a 
fortnight in just such another position. The 
Hunza men were few of them armed with rifles, 
while the Chitralis had numbers of breech- 
loaders, and it was not difficult to imagine that 
a check might here be offered to the relief force, 
and a check, anything else indeed but complete 
success, would have involved the British in 
most serious trouble, and might have caused 
the people all along the lengthy line of com- 
munications to show hostility. 

On the morning of April 9th, at 10.30 a.m., 
Colonel Kelly advanced to the attack of this 
position. In the early morning Lieutenant 
Beynon with the Hunza levies were sent up the 
high hills on the left bank of the river, so as to 


turn the right of the enemy's position and attack 
in rear. The Punyalis were ordered up the 
hills on the right bank to turn out the men 
above the stone-shoots on that side. The 
enemy's position consisted of a line of sangars 
blocking the roads from the river up to the 
alluvial fan on which they were placed. The 
right of the enemy's position was protected by 
a snow glacier which descended into the river 
bed, and also by sangars which were built as 
far up as the snow-line on the hill-side. The 
road down the valley led on to the alluvial fan, 
the ascent to which was short and steep — it was 
covered with boulders, and intersected with 
nullahs. The road led across this fan and then 
along the foot of the steep, shaly slopes and 
shoots within 500 yards of the line of sangars 
crowning the opposite si'de of the river bank, 
and totally devoid of any sort or description of 
cover for some two miles. It could also be 
swept by avalanches of stones set in motion by 
a few men placed on the heights for that 

The force with which Colonel Kelly advanced 
to the attack of this position consisted of 190 


men of the 32nd Pioneers, two guns of the 
Kashmir Mountain Battery, 40 Kashmir 
Sappers and Miners, and 50 levies — in all, 280 
men. Colonel Kelly considered that any delay 
to wait for the second detachment of his troops, 
who were on their way over the Shandur Pass, 
would only give the enemy an opportunity for 
collecting in greater strength, and for improving 
the fortification of their position, and he decided 
therefore to attack at once, and advanced in 
the following order : — A half company of 32nd 
Pioneers formed the advance guard, and these 
were followed by the forty Kashmir Sappers 
and Miners, a half company of the 32nd 
Pioneers, the two guns which were carried by 
coolies, and the other company of the 32nd 
Pioneers completed the main body. The 
baggage, under escort of the rear guard, 
remained at Gasht till ordered forward to the 

The advance was made up to the river where 
the bridge had been broken by the enemy, but 
was now sufficiently repaired by the Sappers 
and Miners for the passage of the infantry. 
The guns forded the river, and the force 


ascended to the fan facing the right sangar 
of the enemy's position. Colonel Kelly's plan 
was for the advance guard to leave the road 
and form up on the highest part of the fan 
facing A sangar, which was to be silenced by 
volley firing and the guns. He also proposed 
to adopt the same course with regard to B 
sangar, when an opportunity should offer for 
the infantry to descend into the river bed and 
ascend the left bank to enfilade the enemy in 
the remaining sangars, which it was expected 
would be vacated as soon as Lieutenant 
Beynon's flank attack with the levies had 

The advance guard of the Pioneers formed 
up at about 800 yards from the position, while 
the main body followed in rear. The Pioneers 
then advanced to the attack — one section of C 
company extended, another section of the same 
company in support ; two sections of C company 
and the whole of A company in reserve. The 
guns then took up a position on the right and 
opened on A sangar at a range of 825 yards. 
As the action progressed the supporting section 
of C company advanced and reinforced the 


remaining half of C company, which also 
advanced, and leaving sufficient space for the 
guns, took up their position in the firing 
line on the extreme right. Volley firing was 
first opened at 800 yards, but the firing line 
advanced 150 to 200 yards as the action pro- 
gressed. At a later stage one section of A 
company was pushed up to fill a gap on the 
right of the guns in action in the centre of 
the line. A few well-directed volleys and 
accurately-aimed shells soon caused the enemy 
to vacate A sangar in twos and threes, till it 
was finally emptied. Meanwhile Lieutenant 
Beynon with his levies had found his way up 
the hill-sides on the left bank of the river, and 
as the Pioneers advanced across the fan 
Lieutenant Beynon drove the enemy from their 
sangars on the hill-sides. As soon as the enemy 
had been cleared from A sangar, Colonel Kelly 
directed his attention to B sangar, and attacked 
it in a similar manner, and just as the enemy 
had fled from the first, they now vacated B 
sangar also. At the same time those of the 
enemy who had been driven from the positions 
on the hill-side came streaming clown into the 


plain, and a general flight ensued. An advance 
of Colonel Kelly's whole force was then made 
down the precipitous banks to the bed of the 
river. This advance was covered by the fire of 
the reserves ; the river was forded, and sangars 
A and B occupied. The guns were then 
carried across, and the whole line of sangars 
having been vacated, the column was re-formed 
in the fan, and the advance was continued to a 
village one and a half miles further along 
the bed of the river, and there a halt was 

So terminated the first successful action with 
the enemy. It was carried out, says Colonel 
Kelly, with the extreme steadiness of an ordi- 
nary morning parade ; the volleys being well 
directed and properly controlled. The action 
lasted but one hour, and the casualties on the 
side of the British were only one man of the 
32nd Pioneers severely wounded, and three 
Kashmir Sappers slightly wounded. The 
strength of the enemy was computed at from 
400 to 500 men, and they were armed with 
Martini-Henry and Snider rifles. Several dead 
were found in the sangars, and the loss of the 


enemy was estimated to have been from fifty to 
sixty men. 

After a short halt the troops continued the 
advance by the left bank of the river till within 
three miles of Mastuj, where the river was 
forded. Here, drawn up on the crest of an 
alluvial fan above the river, were seen the 
British garrison of Mastuj, who had been shut 
up in the fort for eighteen days, but who had, 
on hearing the firing of Colonel Kelly's troops, 
and seeing the enemy gradually vacating their 
position round the fort, now come out to join 
hands with the relieving force. 

At 5 p.m. Colonel Kelly's force reached 
Mastuj itself, and so in a single day a successful 
action had been fought, the beleaguered garrison 
of Mastuj relieved, and another march made in 
the direction of Chitral. 

Lieutenant Moberly, who was in command 
at Mastuj, was now able to relate the story of 
his adventures since his investment by the 
Chitralis. In a previous chapter the story of 
the disasters to the parties under Captain Ross 
and Lieutenant Edwardes has been told. These 
detachments had in the beginning of March set 


out from Mastuj for Chitral, but no news of 
what had happened to them, or of what was 
occurring in Chitral reached Lieutenant 
Moberly. He had sent messengers down to 
Buni three times, but each time they were cut 
off. On March ioth Captain Bretherton (who 
was afterwards drowned in the Brahmaputra 
on the way to Lhasa), the Deputy-Assistant 
Commissary-General for the Gilgit force, 
arrived in Mastuj with a detachment of 100 
Kashmir Sepoys from Ghizr, and so brought 
up the Mastuj garrison to a total strength of 
1 70 men. Sixty more men arrived from Ghizr 
on the 13th, and on the 16th Lieutenant 
Moberly, who had been trying for some days 
to obtain coolies to enable him to march down 
to Buni to ascertain the fate of Captain Ross's 
party, set out from Mastuj with 150 Kashmir 
Infantry. No coolies had been obtained, and 
each man had to carry his poshtin (sheepskin 
coat), two blankets, 120 rounds of ammunition, 
and three days' cooked rations. Sanoghar, a 
village eight miles below Mastuj, was reached 
that day, but no longer march could be made, 
as a bridge over the river had to be repaired. 

vii KELLY'S MARCH 205 

Fifty Punyali levies had joined Lieutenant 
Moberly, and on the next morning he left for 
Buni. This he reached at 5 p.m., and found 
there Lieutenant Jones and the seventeen sur- 
vivors of Captain Ross's party, and thirty-three 
men who had been left in Buni by Captain Ross 
before his march to Koragh. Lieutenant 
Jones had been unable to proceed towards 
Mastuj for fear of attack on the difficult road 
there, and had remained on in Buni trying 
to communicate with Lieutenant Moberly, and 
hoping that relief might be sent him. 

This relief Lieutenant Moberly at no small 
risk, for there are many points on the eighteen 
miles of road between Mastuj and Buni where 
his retreat might have been cut off, had now 
gallantly brought. But Buni was no place in 
which to stay longer than was absolutely neces- 
sary. It is an open village ; there is no defens- 
ible post in it, and above everything there 
were not supplies sufficient to last any length 
of time. The enemy were already in strength 
at Drasan, a few miles distant on the opposite 
bank of the river, and Lieutenant Moberly 
heard that they intended to cut off his retreat 


that very night at the Nisa Gol, a strong 
position on the way between Buni and Mastuj. 
Lieutenant Moberly heard also that the enemy 
were collecting on the road between Mastuj 
and Gilgit, and that no more of our own troops 
had yet started from Gilgit. 

He had no choice left but to return to Mas- 
tuj immediately. So after remaining there only 
two hours he set out at 7 p.m. on the 17th on 
his return jotarney. A party had been pre- 
viously despatched to seize the bridge over the 
river and the difficult piece of cliff along which 
the road passes, and the Punyali levies had been 
sent forward to if possible prevent the enemy 
from occupying the Nisa Gol position. These 
precautionary measures were successfully carried 
out ; the enemy did nothing more than follow 
the party along the path, and Lieutenant 
Moberly after marching steadily all night halted 
for a few hours at dawn, and proceeded on to 
Mastuj, which he reached in safety about 10 a.m. 
on the 1 8th, having thus by a bold and care- 
fully-planned march rescued Lieutenant Jones's 
party from probably the same fate that befell 
Lieutenant Edwardes's party. He did this, 




too, just in the nick of time, for only a few 
hours after he had left Buni, the enemy arrived 
there in force, and afterwards occupied the Nisa 
Gol position. 

On the three days following his return to 
Mastuj, Lieutenant Moberly and Captain Bre- 
therton were busily occupied in cutting down 
trees, from them making up fence-work round 
the fort, and completing defensive arrangements 
generally. The Hunza-Nagar levies, to the 
number of one hundred, were sent back to 
Ghizr on the other side of the Shandur to rein- 
force that post and be in communication with 
Gilgit. On the 25th news reached Mastuj that 
Lieutenants Fowler and Edwardes had been 
captured by the Chitralis. The enemy were 
now closing round the fort. A reconnaissance 
which Lieutenant Moberly had taken out on 
the 22nd showed that about six hundred of 
them were building and holding sangars at 
Chokalwat position, a few miles above Mastuj 
on the way to Gilgit, and a regular blockade of 
the fort now commenced. 

Mastuj fort is about ninety yards square, and 
is built of masonry and woodwork, in the same 


manner as are all the forts in these parts. The 
walls are about twenty-five feet high, but at the 
time of the siege were in a dilapidated condition, 
for the place had only been temporarily occu- 
pied by the British as a residence for the polit- 
ical agent and his escort pending the decision 
of the Government as regards our permanent 
policy towards Chitral. And unfortunately 
a very severe earthquake in the previous 
year had shaken the walls very nearly to pieces. 
At that time I was the political agent there, 
and a little incident which occurred while the 
earthquake was taking place is worth recording 
as an instance of the steadiness of the native 
troops. Lieutenant Gurdon, the officer in com- 
mand of the escort of Sikhs, and myself were 
seated in a room of the fort when we suddenly 
felt the whole place shaking. But earthquakes 
are common in Chitral and we did not at first 
move, till we heard stones crashing down out- 
side and the whole room tossing about like a 
cabin on board ship. Then we dashed out of 
the door to the courtyard, and as we did so 
passed a sentry, who quietly proceeded to pre- 
sent arms in salute as if nothing was happening. 


The mountains round were in a cloud of dust 
from the avalanches of rock set rolling down 
their sides by the earthquake, and the rickety 
walls of the fort tumbling on all sides ; but all 
this did not disturb the Sikh sentry ; his sense 
of discipline was so ingrained that he saluted as 
usual, in the ordinary, everyday manner. 

The Mastuj fort is situated on the edge of a 
sloping plain running down from the hill-side 
which at one point approaches to within about 
400 yards of the fort. The enemy occupied a 
row of houses some 300 yards from the fort, 
which they loopholed, and from these com- 
menced firing upon the fort. They also built 
sangars at a distance of 800 yards, but the 
garrison succeeded in silencing their fire by 
aiming volleys into them ; and on one occasion 
Punyali levies were sent out at night to white- 
wash the loopholes of sangers out of which the 
enemy had been driven during the day, so that 
it would be possible for the garrison to aim 
correctly if the enemy attempted to reoccupy 
them. The enemy did subsequently come back 
to the sangars, but only to be driven out again 

by the carefully-aimed fire from the garrison. 


On another occasion the Chitralis had built 
a sangar on the hill-side and from it wounded 
two ponies in the inside of the fort. The enemy 
were armed with Martini- Henry and Snider 
rifles and could fire from long ranges into the 
fort. It was necessary therefore to dislodge 
them from the sangar, and the Punyali levies 
were sent early one morning to destroy it before 
it had been occupied for the day by the 
enemy. Some days afterwards a sangar was 
built about 300 yards below the fort, but Lieu- 
tenant Moberly moved out with a party of 
eighty sepoys and rushed it. The enemy only 
fired a few shots, and then retired into some 
houses from which they harassed the return 
of the party. The sangar, which was found to 
be strongly built of fascines and stones, was 

All this time the Chitralis had been trying to 
induce Lieutenant Moberly to come out under 
the promise of a safe conduct to Gilgit, and he 
was assured that Sher Afzul, the pretender to 
the throne of Chitral, had no wish to fight the 
British. Had Lieutenant Moberly listened to 
these insinuating advances he would undoubt- 


edly have been captured as soon as he came 
outside, and he acted wisely to wait for the 
relief which, though he was not aware of it, was 
now near at hand. On the 9th of April large 
numbers of the enemy were observed to be 
moving off, and Lieutenant Moberly took out 
his men to follow them up and harass them. 
Then it was that he met Colonel Kelly's force 
marching in to the relief of the garrison. The 
siege was now at an end ; the tables were 
turned, and relieving and relieved forces now 
marched down to succour Chitral. 

From the 10th to the 12th of April Colonel 
Kelly halted in Mastuj to allow of arrangements 
for supplies and transport for the further march 
to Chitral to be made, and to await the arrival 
of a second detachment of the troops catching up 
from the Shandur Pass. On the nth of April 
this detachment arrived accompanied by Sur- 
geon-Captain Luard with the Field Hospital, 
which was now established at Mastuj ; and on 
the same day a reconnaissance was made by 
the levies in the direction of Chitral, as the 
enemy were reported to be holding a strong 
position a few miles below Mastuj. On the 



i 2 th of April a further reconnaissance was 
made by Lieutenant Beynon, the staff-officer, 
and an accurate sketch of the enemy's position 
brought back by him, which enabled Colonel 
Kelly to settle the course of his action. The 
position was generally considered to be im- 
pregnable, and the late Mehtar of Chitral had, 
standing on the very spot, himself explained to 
me its natural strength, and affirmed that it was 
one of the strongest positions in his country. 
In Chitral all the positions in the mountain 
valleys are well known and are ^regularly occu- 
pied in each successive invasion which occurs, 
and this position, Nisa Gol, is the one which has 
been selected from time immemorial by the 
Chitralis in the defence of their valley. 

The valley of the Chitral River at the Nisa 
Gol position is about a mile wide, arid is 
bounded on either hand by steep rocky 
mountains, rising for several thousand feet 
above the river. On the left bank especially 
the mountain sides are very precipitous, and up 
against these the Chitral River runs. On first 
looking down the valley it appears as if, in 
between the mountains, there was nothing but 


a smooth plain running down from the right- 
hand side, and it is not till one is actually on it 
that it is discovered that the seemingly open 
plain is cleft by a nullah between 200 and 300 
feet deep, and with absolutely perpendicular 
sides. The nullah is the Nisa Gol, and only 
one path leads across it, that of the road to 
Chitral, and this path the enemy had now cut 
away. There had been a small goat-track 
across this nullah at another point, but the 
enemy had now entirely obliterated it. Sangars 
had also been erected at the head of these 
paths and along the right bank of the nullah. 
These sangars were sunk into the ground and 
head-cover was provided by a covering of 
timber and stones. On the left of their posi- 
tion they had sangars on the spur of the hill in 
a general line with the sangars on the plain, 
and on the hill parties of men were stationed 
to throw down stones. On the right of their 
position across the Chitral River, and slightly in 
advance of the general line, they had another 
line of sangars on a spur stretching away high 
up into the snow-line. 

Such wa,s the position which Colonel Kelly 


had now to attack, and in it the Chitralis had 
collected to the number of about 1,500 men 
under their chief leader, Mohamed Isa, to 
make their principal stand, so as to prevent 
Colonel Kelly joining hands with the British 
garrison in Chitral. 

Colonel Kelly, reinforced by the garrison of 
Mastuj, now had with him 382 Pioneers under 
Captain Borrodaile, two guns under Lieutenant 
Stewart, 100 Kashmir Infantryunder Lieutenant 
Moberly, 34 Kashmir Sappers and Miners 
under Lieutenant Oldham, R.E., and 100 
Hunza and Punyali levies. With this force he 
advanced from Mastuj at 7 a.m. on the 13th 
of April. His plan was to send on an advance 
guard, which, on gaining the plain which the 
enemy's position bisected, would make its way 
well up to the right where the ground favoured 
an advance under cover to within 500 yards of 
the ravine, whose further bank was occupied 
by the enemy. This advance guard was 
ordered to direct its attack on the sangar on 
the right with well-directed volleys till the guns 
and the remainder of the force could come into 
position. As soon, as the advance guard could 


silence the fire in this sangar, which commanded 
the advance across the plain, the main sangars 
along the banks of the ravine were to be fired 
upon. At the same time levies were to make 
their* way high up in the ravine nearer its 
source in the mountains on Colonel Kelly's 
right, to find some path by which the enemy's 
left could be turned. 

The advance guard, composed of A company, 
at about 10.30 a.m. deployed into line and 
advanced in extended order when within 900 
yards of the position, the C company following 
soon after prolonging the line to the right. 
Each of these two formed their own supports, 
E and G companies were in reserve, marching 
in column of half companies forming single 
rank, and opening out into one pace as they 
advanced. Reinforcements being called for, E 
company advanced and prolonged the line to 
the right, G company being called up similarly 
later on, formed the extreme right of the firing 
line. The levies were well on the right, high 
up towards the head of the ravine. While 
these movements were being executed, the 
guns came into action at a range of 500 yards, 


firing common shell, and knocking down the 
wall of the sangar to a height of about three 
feet, and so, for a short time, silencing the fire 
from it. The guns were afterwards advanced 
to a distance of 275 yards from the enemy's 
main sangar. 

The infantry having deployed, A and G 
companies kept the enemy engaged directly in 
front along the main line of sangars, the latter 
company occasionally directing its fire half 
right against the sangars on the hills in that 
flank. The fire of E and G companies was 
almost entirely directed against the hill sangars 
— -occasional volleys being directed on small 
parties of the enemy occupying hill tops from 
800 to 900 yards distance. The general 
average distance at which firing was opened to 
the front was from 2 50 to 300 yards. As soon 
as the guns had silenced the fire from the 
sangars on the hill-sides to the right, they 
shelled at ranges from 875 yards to 1,200 yards 
the sangars along the edge of the ravine. 

The existence of the goat-path across the 
ravine already referred to was now reported to 
Colonel Kelly by his staff-officer Lieutenant 



Beynon, and Colonel Kelly accordingly di- 
rected that an attempt should be made to make 
it practicable so that the force might cross by 
it. Some ladders had been brought with the 
force for the special purpose of crossing the 
ravine, and the Kashmir Sappers under Lieuten- 
ant Moberly were sent forward with Lieutenant 
Beynon to carry out the work. The scaling- 
ladders were lowered down the sides of the 
ravine by means of ropes, and after half an 
hours work a track was made by which the 
bottom of the nullah could be reached and an 
ascent by the goat-track on the further side 
assured. TJie troops then descended into the 
nullah, and eventually a party of about fifteen 
succeeded in climbing the opposite bank, which 
they reached almost simultaneously with the 
levies, who had now worked their way round 
by the right, turned the enemy s left and 
reached the sangars on the hill-side. The ap- 
pearance of these bodies on the enemy's left 
caused a general flight, and they streamed out 
of their sangars in a long line, with the guns 
firing at ranges from 950 to 1,400 yards, and 
under volleys of rifle fire from the infantry, 


Colonel Kelly then ordered a general advance 
across the nullah by the road leading to Chitral. 
A company, as soon as it could be mustered, 
was sent in pursuit, but the enemy's flight was 
extremely rapid, and they succeeded in effecting 
a retreat towards Drasan and over the hill-sides 
on the right bank of the river. 

Colonel Kelly in reporting this action said 
that he could not speak too highly of the extreme 
steadiness and bravery of the troops during the 
course of the action, which lasted two hours, 
and during which they were subjected to a very 
heavy and trying fire from the front and left 
bank. The fire discipline he also said was 
excellent, and contributed materially to keeping 
down the fire from the enemy's sangars. 

The enemy's casualties were estimated at 
some sixty killed and one hundred wounded. 
Amongst the enemy were some forty of Umra 
Khans men, and the fire which Colonel Kelly's 
force had to face was entirely from Martini- 
Henry and Snider rifles. 

This second success was even greater than 
the first. All the principal men of the country 
not employed before the fort of Chitral were 


present in the action, and the utmost reliance 
had been placed in the strength of the position. 
It was therefore a serious blow to the Chitralis 
when they found that the principal position 
on the road to Chitral had been summarily- 

Colonel Kelly halted that night opposite the 
village of Sanoghar, and on the following, day, 
the 14th of April, marched to Drasan to ascertain 
the strength of the enemy and his whereabouts, 
as it was reported that Mohamed Isa had fled 
in that direction. The road had been broken, 
and a long detour had to be made up the spur 
some 2,000 ft. high above the road, necessitating 
a march of some twenty miles. 
s The fort at Drasan was found to be un- 
occupied, and in it were large quantities of grain, 
which would have been very acceptable to 
Colonel Kelly had he been able to carry it 
away, but no transport was available for the 
purpose as no men could be captured from the 
neighbouring villages. 

The usual road to Chitral runs down the op- 
posite side of the valley to that on which Drasan 
is situated. It was by this road on the left 


bank of the river that Captain Ross and Lieu- 
tenants Edwardes and Fowler had advanced, 
and along it the parties under them had been 
annihilated. The enemy had intended to have 
arrested Colonel Kelly's progress at or near 
the spot where Captain Ross's party had suffered 
so severely, but Colonel Kelly outwitted them 
by avoiding the terrible defiles on that road 
and by marching from Drasan high up along 
the hill-sides on the right bank of the river till 
he had passed these difficult positions. 

In the midst of heavy rain he marched on 
the 15th of April to Khusht, and on the 16th to 
Loon ; and then on the 17th, being well behind 
the worst defiles, he descended to the river bed 
again and crossed the Chitral River to Barnas, 
though the river at this point is not generally 
considered fordable, for it is breast-high and 
runs with rapid current. It was of course with 
only great risk that men could be taken across, 
but by linking them together in bands of ten or 
twelve, and by stationing levies in the stream to 
help men who might be washed off their legs, 
and to save kits which might be carried away, 
Colonel Kelly's force was able to effect the 


passage of this deep and rapid mountain river. 
A strategical move of the highest importance 
had thus been effected and an almost impreg- 
nable position turned without the firing of a 
single shot. 

All this time Colonel Kelly had not been 
able to hear a single word from the garrison in 
Chitral, nor had he been able to pass a message 
in to them to give warning of his approach. 
He was now only two marches distant from 
Chitral, and the crisis of his arduous march was 
approaching. This date was indeed the turning- 
point of the whole campaign — Colonel Kelly 
had turned the enemy's last position ; it was 
on this day that Lieutenant Harley made his 
brilliant sortie ; and it was on this day Umra 
Khan was making his last futile effort against 
General Low's force. The high-water mark of 
the rebellion had been reached, and from now 
the tide began to turn rapidly. 

On the 1 8th Colonel Kelly made a short 
march to Moroi and on the 19th arrived at 
Koghazi, only one march from Chitral. Here 
he received his first letter from the beleaguered 
garrison, and obtained the welcome news that 


the siege had just been raised and that the 
enemy had finally fled. 

In the afternqon of April 20th the force 
marched into Chitral and joined hands with 
their comrades, who had for forty-seven days 
been invested withi-n the fort. 

This famous march of native troops from the 
plains of India, led by a mere handful of British 
officers, over a snow-clad range, through 
precipitous defiles into the heart of a country 
flushed with successful rebellion, will ever be 
remembered as a unique exploit of the Indian 
Army. The news of the success of the little 
force was soon spread throughout the empire. 
Everywhere the highest admiration was excited, 
and critics in the great armies of the Continent 
joined with ourselves in the praises of the high 
military qualities which its accomplishment 
showed that our officers and men possessed. 
Her Majesty the Queen immediately tele- 
graphed to India her gracious approbation of 
this remarkable exploit, and the Commander- 
in-Chief in India, Sir George White, expressed 
his warm appreciation of the manner in which, 
in the face of extraordinary difficulties, the 


advance and operations of the force were con- 
ducted, and of the indomitable energy displayed 
by Colonel Kelly and the officers and troops 
under his command in overcoming them. The 
Commander-in-Chief considered the arrange- 
ments made for the crossing of the Shandur 
Pass, the perseverance and skill displayed by the 
officers, and the excellent behaviour of the troops 
worthy of the highest praise, and while com- 
mending all, recorded especially the important 
part taken by Captain Borrodaile and his detach- 
ment, who were the first over the pass. 

A week after Colonel Kelly had reached 
Chitral Major "Roddy" Owen and myself, 
riding on ahead of the advanced parties of 
General Low's force arrived in Chitral. It 
was a bright sunny day, the country was 
clothed in all the fulness of spring, the young 
corn was waving in the fields, the blossoms 
were forming on the trees and all nature was 
smiling as we rode through the forty miles 
of country which separated Chitral from the 
advance guard which General Gatacre had 
just led over the Lowarai Pass. But the looks 


of the people were in striking contrast. Worn, 
trembling and utterly cowed the Chitralis 
shrank from even two British officers riding 
without an escort through their country. It 
was pitiable to see them. Men, whom a few 
months before I had seen gay as few but 
Chitralis in their contented moments can be, 
were now moving about with careworn faces, 
thin and exhausted. The people of Chitral 
had flamed up into rebellion, and were now 
lying burnt out like the charred remains of 
a firework. When I asked them why they 
had been so foolish as to fight us, they wrung 
their hands and said, " Why were we ? We 
hate these Pathans ; they have plundered our 
houses and carried off our women, but they 
were strong and close while you were far away, 
and we never knew you were so powerful a§ 
you are. We did not want to fight you, but 
we were led away." 

It was only very few people, however, that 
we met as we rode through the villages, for 
most had fled to the hills, believing that 
General Gatacre s brigade, now just over the 
Lowarai Pass, was to advance and exact a 


terrible retribution by massacring them for the 

space of three days. 

Late in the evening of the 27th of April, we 

rode into Chitral, and had the honour to be the 

first to congratulate the famous garrison and 

the officers of Colonel Kelly's force upon their 

splendid achievements. We found the officers 

just sitting down to dinner in the very house 

in which I had lived for many months, and 

in which Mr. Curzon and I on the previous 

October had entertained the late Mehtar at 

dinner. It was situated half-a-mile from the 

fort, and here we found Sir George Robertson 

and the other officers, recovered somewhat 

indeed from what Colonel Kelly's officers had 

found them, but still looking pale and worn, 

thin, and with the set, anxious look which had 

not yet left their faces. They were cheery ; 

they brought out a long-treasured bottle of 

brandy from the reserve for hospital purposes, 

and they produced a Christmas plum-pudding 

which had only that day arrived, and insisted 

upon our sharing these luxuries with them ; 

but even now they hardly realised that the 

struggle was yet over, and one or other of them 


would from time to time go round the sentries 
posted everywhere round the house. 

One of the first subjects on which they spoke 
to us was about poor Baird. Few officers 
have ever attached their comrades more 
sincerely to them than did this brave officer, 
and he was one of the best and keenest soldiers 
in the service. He was noted for his tact 
and for the amiability of his character, and he 
studied his profession with the spirit of an 
enthusiast. His coolness was as remarkable as 
his zeal, and suffering though he was and know- 
ing that he must die, he remained cheerful and 
collected to the last. He said that he would 
not have wished to die any other death than 
the soldier's death which he was now to meet ; 
he had done his duty and led his men as a 
soldier should do, and he never regretted his 
fate. He gave a few last messages to those at 
home and then with a smile on his face and, 
thinking of his profession to the very end, 
wished his comrades success in their plans and 
bade them good-bye. 

He died on the morning of the 4th of March, 
and was buried in the dead of night outside the 

Photo Bassano, Old Bond Street. 

Captain J. McD. Baird. 



main gate of the fort while the enemy were 
firing all round. A little over two months 
later, when the advance brigade of the Relieving 
Force arrived in Chitral, General Gatacre read 
a funeral service over his grave, and Major 
Aylmer, R.E., who had served together with 
Baird in the Hunza Campaign three years 
before and won his Victoria Cross there, erected 
a tombstone to his memory and with his own 
hands carved an inscription. His comrades 
and fellow-countrymen will know then that, far 
away though he now lies, his grave has not 
been neglected, but will ever be cared for by 
the soldiers who follow after him. 

After poor Baird I think the subject on which 
the officers of the garrison spoke most feelingly 
was the devotion and noble spirit of discipline 
and determination shown by the Sikhs. There 
were but a hundred of them in a garrison of 
nearly four hundred, but the officers said that 
without them they could never have held out, 
and that but for these Sikhs not one of them 
would have been there now. They only grew 
more enthusiastic as the siege became closer 
and times seemed harder. With calm self- 


reliance they stood proudly at bay like a rock 
with the waves beating against it. And so 
great was the sense of discipline which their 
stern old native officer Gurmukh Singh instilled 
into them, that when during an attack the sick 
struggled out of hospital to join in the fight he 
would not excuse even their impulsive bravery, 
but told them that a soldier's first duty was to 
obey, that they had been ordered to hospital 
and there they must stay. It was the discipline 
ingrained into these men that saved the garrison. 
As long as a Sikh was on sentry, and while 
Sikhs were holding a threatened point, Captain 
Townshend had nothing to fear. The enemy 
would never catch a Sikh off his guard and 
could never force their way through a post of 
Sikhs while one remained alive. They saved 
the garrison, and the officers gratefully ac- 
knowledged their service. 

The skill of the enemy was, too, a subject on 
which the officers specially dwelt. The Chitralis 
had not previously been considered of much 
account as a fighting race ; but even they, once 
their blood was up, fought hard and well, and 
their Pathan allies were as skilful and brave as 

Company of the 14TH Sikhs which formed part of the Garrison of Chitral during the Sieoe, 

vii KELLY'S MARCH 229 

troops of a regularly- trained army. Umra 
Khans men were born warriors ; unlike the 
Chitralis, who by nature prefer polo and sport 
and dancing to fighting, the Pathans from their 
childhood upwards think of little else than 
warfare. They are for ever raiding upon one 
another, attacking each others villages, and 
besieging and defending the forts scattered over 
their country nearly as thickly as public-houses 
in England. They therefore showed every 
ingenuity in the siege of Chitral. To make 
the most of their ammunition they never fired 
a shot without clearly making out an object to 
aim at, and usually with the rifle resting on a 
stone so as to enable them to aim correctly. 
The skill which they displayed in the construc- 
tion of trenches and breastworks to approach 
the walls ; the sagacity they evidenced in re- 
peatedly attacking the water-way and in setting 
fire to the towers and walls of the fort ; and 
the courage and determination they showed in 
their attempts to carry out these objects, excited 
the highest admiration of the besieged. 

No less remarkable was their well-directed 
effort to undermine the walls ; and at the close 

230 THE RELIEF OF CHITRAL chap, vii 

of the siege the defenders found a huge pent 
roof, which was to have been borne along and 
placed against the walls of the fort so as to cover 
the assailants, and huge scaling-ladders, capable 
of carrying three men abreast. With the aid 
of these contrivances the enemy had hoped, 
when the mine had been successfully fired, to 
have made one last desperate assault upon the 
devoted garrison before the Relieving Force 
could arrive. They calculated that the defenders 
must be getting very short of supplies, for Mr. 
Robertson in his negotiations with them had 
always been careful to lead them into this 
belief. They thought, too, that the native 
troops must be low at heart, and ready to throw 
up the sponge at any day. They considered, 
therefore, that if one great effort could be made 
they would be able to first crush the Chitral 
garrison, and then annihilate Colonel Kelly, 
who they knew had with him only a handful of 
men with no supplies and no transport to speak 
of, and who was now in the middle of the worst 
defiles of the country. But the carefully-planned 
and brilliantly-executed sortie under Harley 
had effectually frustrated this last supreme effort 

Now the British Agency 


of the besiegers, and Colonel Kelly's force had, 
by their skilful tactics and bravery in action, 
thwarted the enemy's most cherished plans. 
Just on the brink of a disaster the British forces 
came out triumphant ; and once again in our 
fair island's story it was shown that British 
officers, even though unsupported by a single 
British soldier, and with only their own stout 
hearts and strong right arms to trust to, and 
to the influence they could exercise over men 
of subject races, had been able to uphold the 
honour of their race ; and the story of the 
defence and relief of Chitral will be handed 
down to posterity as one of the most brilliant 
chapters in the annals of Indian military history. 


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